Vancouver port looks to develop new Red Lion hotel

Project would be part of larger effort to redevelop its Terminal 1 property

By Aaron Corvin, December 18, 2014, The Columbian

The Port of Vancouver said Wednesday it hopes to develop a new hotel for Red Lion as part of a larger effort to redevelop its Terminal 1 property, currently home to the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay.


The goal would be to keep the existing hotel operating while the new one is being built, said Abbi Russell, a spokeswoman for the port. It’s unclear exactly where on the Terminal 1 property the new hotel would rise, but it would not be built on the current hotel’s footprint. Part of the current hotel and restaurant sits on pilings above the Columbia River.


Few specifics have been ironed out and no decisions have been made. “We’re still in the early, early planning stages,” Russell said, and the port remains in negotiations with Red Lion.


The port also is considering a farmers market as “just one of many different concepts,” Russell said, to further improve Terminal 1 and to draw the public to the waterfront.


Additional details of the port’s Terminal 1 plans surfaced Wednesday as part of a presentation delivered by the port’s CEO, Todd Coleman, at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Vancouver.


The details add to what’s already publicly known: that the port and Red Lion are negotiating to reconfigure Terminal 1, where the port owns more than 10 acres including the hotel/restaurant, a small office building, a public dock and a waterfront amphitheater. During a Dec. 4 panel discussion of various waterfront projects, Katy Brooks, the port’s director of business development, said the overall idea is to create a blend of commercial, retail and public spaces.


Brooks said the port’s redevelopment plans include a new mixed-use building. Such a facility would be in addition to the port’s plan to develop a new hotel for Red Lion, according to Russell.


Headquartered in Spokane, Red Lion Hotels Corp. has more than 50 hotels, and also owns and operates an entertainment and event ticket distribution business. In the third quarter of this year, the company reported a profit of $5.1 million. That compares with a profit of $1.2 million in the same July-to-September period in 2013.


In its quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it revised the lease term for the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay to Dec. 31, 2015. “In addition, we have the right to terminate the lease after Dec. 31, 2014, with a payment of $3 million,” according to the company. “If we have not previously terminated the lease, the lease will expire on Dec. 31, 2015 with a required payment of $3 million.”


In redeveloping Terminal 1, Russell said, the port wants to maintain the history of the site.


“It’s not only the birthplace of the port but also the birthplace of Red Lion in Washington,” she said.


Once home to a prune export terminal, restaurateur George Goodrich opened The Quay Restaurant & Bar on the pier in 1960. In 1962, the hotel was added and the complex became the Inn at the Quay. In 1973, the business was purchased by local entrepreneurs Ed Pietz and Tod McClaskey, founders of the original Red Lion hotel chain.


The port also has said it wants its planned Terminal 1 improvements to complement developer Barry Cain’s plan for a $1.3 billion commercial/residential redevelopment of Vancouver’s 32-acre waterfront.


Cain and the port have previously worked together, Russell said, but Cain is not involved in redeveloping Terminal 1.


Cain, president of Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development, recently announced that he’s inked a deal to build a 10-story hotel as part of the development of the adjoining 32-acre waterfront project, once home to a paper mill. He said construction on the hotel would begin in 2015.


He’s also signed at least one restaurant to become part of his waterfront project. It’s expected to begin construction in 2015. He’s also discussed plans for a separate mixed-use building with retail, housing and office space.


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