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Hotel Concepts New Design for Historic Hotel in Tacoma's Brewery District Approved;
Work on 160-room Holiday Inn Could Begin by End of Year

By Kathleen Cooper, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 16, 2010--Almost three years after the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission heard, and shredded, the design of a hotel in the Brewery District, the board now has approved the final plans.

One of the hotel's owners said construction on the 160-room Holiday Inn Express will begin after the city processes the permits, possibly by the end of the year.

"We intend to go full speed ahead," Faruq Ramzanalli said Wednesday evening. The long process "has been challenging, but looking back, it's been a good thing."

Ramzanalli said he's confident that financing for the $21 million hotel will be settled by the time Seattle-based Hotel Concepts Inc. is ready to break ground. "We think that by the time (the city permits) are ready, we'll be ready," he said.

Hotel Concepts principal Han Kim said in an interview last month that financing was secured and that construction, once begun, would take about 15 months. The hotel will be about 88,000 square feet and offer rooms for about $100 a night, he said.

The design review process was a long haul. The developers first came to the commission in December 2007 with preliminary plans. Based on that initial feedback, the developers presented a new concept in September 2008 for two hotels. The commission remained concerned that the hotels would clash with the architecture in the warehouse area.

The final design is for a single hotel at 21st and C streets that occupies an existing parking lot and the site of an old, featureless building attached to the former Heidleberg Brewery. That building will be demolished. The hotel will be eight stories high: six floors of hotel atop two floors of parking.

Seven stories will be a single-color brick, with only the top floor stucco. The original design had a lot more stucco, and commissioners wanted to avoid the look of Pacific Avenue's Marriott Courtyard hotel, which looks like it came from a corporate catalog.

The windows also were significantly redesigned to more closely resemble windows in other warehouse buildings. The windows also incorporate heating and air conditioning units instead of having those be separate grills penetrating the walls.

Wednesday's decision was not without a few more points of inquiry. Commissioner Pamela Sundell said she didn't like the ground floor canopies, asked for clarification of the height of the cupolas, and asked Ramzanalli whether he or the other owners have talked to the University of Washington Tacoma.

Ramzanalli said they hadn't.

"The city needs hotel rooms," he said. "The convention center is screaming for rooms. We've been trying to get rooms online since 2007," since there are only three other hotels in the downtown district.

"So I'm sure they're for it," he said.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the design.

Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546


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