|By Allan Brettman, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 22, 2003 - The DoubleTree Hotels on either side of Interstate 5 along the Columbia River's south shore are for sale, a prospect that at least two real estate specialists interpret as a small sign of the Portland area's improving hospitality market.
Hilton Hotels owns the 352-room DoubleTree Hotel at Columbia River, which is on the west side of the interstate, and the 320-room DoubleTree Hotel at Jantzen Beach, on the east side.
The decision to sell is unrelated to the sluggish overall economy, the post-Sept. 11 hospitality industry downturn or Hilton's plans to manage a nearby 225-room hotel in downtown Vancouver, said Kathy Shepard, a spokeswoman.
The move also is not related to a Portland State University proposal for the Portland Development Commission to condemn the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Portland to clear the way for a PSU expansion. Boykin Lodging Co. of Cleveland owns that hotel.
"This was a business decision that was made because it makes sense for us to do it," Shepard said.
Doug Heaton, manager of the two hotels, could not be reached for comment.
More likely, said Edward Dundon, who owns a Portland commercial real estate brokerage specializing in hotels, Hilton decided it did not want to spend the money needed to upgrade the Columbia River hotel, built in 1970, or the Jantzen Beach hotel, built in 1978.
In addition, Dundon and another market observer said market conditions for buying and selling lodging properties gradually have improved in the past year after a dearth of transactions following Sept. 11.
"This is an example of when sellers perceive there is interest in the market, they may be more apt to sell their property," Dundon said. "I'm working with a lot of buyers who are interested in this market."
He said between four and eight hotels are for sale in the Portland metropolitan area.
For most of the past two years, buyers have wanted to purchase hotels based on post-Sept. 11 performance, and sellers have insisted on numbers that preceded that date, said Tom Lattin, managing director of PKF Capital Markets Group, a hospitality analyst based in Houston.
"That being said, the buyers of hotels are a little more optimistic than they were a year ago, and they're willing to pay a higher cost per occupied room because they see a better time for growth," Lattin said. "The sellers see this as a good time to sell property before they have to spend a whole lot of money on capital improvements."
Shepard, the Hilton spokeswoman, would not give the asking price for the hotels.
The Multnomah County Office of Assessment and Taxation lists a market price of $20.8 million for the Jantzen Beach hotel, on 13.82 acres at 909 N. Hayden Island Drive, and $16.9 million for the Columbia River hotel, on 13.75 acres at 1401 N. Hayden Island Drive, according to a 2003 assessment.
Both hotels were built by Red Lion Hotels & Inns, a chain that once was based in Vancouver. Red Lion survives as a brand name, owned by WestCoast Hospitality of Spokane.
Hilton Hotels is expected to manage a $71.2 million hotel and conference center planned for downtown Vancouver. Construction could begin as soon as November.
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(c) 2003, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. HLT, WEH,