|By Addy Hatch, The Spokesman-Review,
Spokane, Wash.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 27, 2010 -- A hotel and convention center could be built on the Washington State University campus in Pullman if negotiations between a California developer and the university are successful.
WSU's board of regents approved a plan Friday to begin negotiations with Sonnenblick-Del Rio Development for the sale of 7.5 acres of WSU property, according to a news release. The Brentwood, Calif., company wants to build a 125-room Hilton hotel and 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot convention center on the site, which is at the northeast end of campus, east of the Student Recreation Center.
"Negotiations are just that," said Darin Watkins, WSU's executive director of external communications, "but the company that has made this proposal has a lot of time invested in getting this far."
If the deal goes through, construction could be finished toward the end of 2011, Watkins said. "There is an eagerness from both sides to begin work right away," he said.
The new complex -- which might include more rooms or possibly an extended-stay facility -- is near WSU's Palouse Ridge Golf Club. Together they could function as a destination resort, Watkins said.
Mary MacDonald, tourism director at the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, said the city needs convention space attached to a hotel in order to attract conferences. Pullman also needs more hotel rooms for big college events such as Mom's weekend and graduation, she said.
Watkins said a purchase price for the land hasn't been revealed, but that moving the property from public to private ownership would boost tax revenue for the city of Pullman.
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