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Construction Begins on 164-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites
in Tacoma, Washington After Three Year Delay

By John Gillie, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 21, 2011--Construction has begun without fanfare on Tacoma's first new downtown hotel, the 164-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites near the old Heidelberg Brewery.

The hotel, which was mired in city design reviews and permitting for three years, will be the first new Tacoma hotel to open in five years when it begins renting rooms in December 2012.

'I'm so glad that we're finally under construction," Han Kim, a partner in Hotel Concepts Inc., the Seattle company developing the hotel, said Tuesday.

The eight-story structure will include a lobby and swimming pool on the first floor, three floors of covered parking and four stories of hotel rooms and suites. About 40 percent of the accommodations will be suites, said Kim.

Contractors began digging holes for the hotel's foundation this week. Some cleanup remains to be done on the site's south side where parts of the brewery structure once stood. The remainder of the brewery, abandoned for years and damaged by fire earlier this month, will be demolished within the next few months. The hotel partners have no immediate plans for the rest of the brewery site not occupied by the hotel.

The South 21st and C streets hotel site is adjacent to the Union Station Historic District. The hotel construction plans were subject to review by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. That commission rejected the first hotel plans as being incompatible with the brick warehouses and structures of the neighboring historic area.

After several redesigns that substituted brick for stucco in the hotel's facade and modified the room windows to make them more like the windows in the area's historic buildings, the hotel finally passed the commission's review.

Preservationists had lobbied for the preservation of the brewery's landmark water tower in the final design, but preserving that design element proved to be too expensive.

The addition of 164 rooms to the city's downtown inventory of hotel rooms is expected to make Tacoma more attractive for groups planning conventions at the city's convention center. Convention center officials have bemoaned the lack of available rooms for large events.

The hotel's average price will undercut that of the two downtown hotels, the Murano and the Courtyard by Marriott, that are much closer to the convention center. Those hotels, however, offer more amenities such as restaurants and a location much closer to the convention facility.

The hotel's total acquisition and construction price is expected to be near $22 million, said Kim.

Hotel Concepts has developed two hotels in Bremerton, two in Seattle and two in SeaTac. A third Hotel Concepts Inc. hotel is under construction in SeaTac on International Boulevard south of the airport.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663


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Copyright (c) 2011, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.

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