Two hotel concepts reviewed by Burien Council in Monday study session


Print This Post  Email This Post

A proposed hotel would be located on SW 150th Street, just east of Chase Bank near the Transit Center between 1st Ave South and 2nd Ave SW.

By Jack Mayne

The Burien City Council in study session Monday night (Nov. 26) heard Economic Development Manager Andrea Snyder tell of two hotel development teams that were selected by an advisory panel and asked to present their proposals to the Council.

The issue has been before the Council sporadically since June when the city’s economic development staff told Councilmembers their proposed hotel recruitment plan, which included formation of a hotel advisory committee and sought developer proposals. Then, in September, the city asked for potential hotel developers on city-owned land in downtown Burien. Responses were due on Nov. 5.

Information but no decision
Snyder said the purpose of the Monday night meeting was to get information, and that members of the Council need to “find which firm is able to execute on a concept that is realistic and in line with city goals.”

There was no expectation that a decision would be made Monday, because there are a great many additional steps before a final choice is made, she said. She said land prices and other costs shouldn’t be discussed in a public session and can be discussed at a later time in an executive session.

Recommended to Council
The hotel advisory committee recommended two of the three responding firms to be interviewed by the Council.

One of the members of the development team was Mike Yellam, a Normandy Park resident who says he is a “big Burien fan,” and is development manager of the Fana Group of Companies, headquartered in Bellevue.

He said the Council should consider whether any hotel development would take place in the near future since there have been many rooms proposed for development in the general South King County area, including in SeaTac and along Highway 99 in Des Moines.

Two proposals
Yellam said identified key strengths of each proposal and questions for the firms that – “based on our expertise – we think it important for you to consider.” The team presented to the Council two accepted proposals “to assist you in your evaluation of the teams and to ensure you are presented with the most complete information during the interviews, we asked the developer teams to provide more information for your consideration during the interviews.”

One is Hotel Concepts, a “full spectrum hospitality company with expertise in land acquisition, franchise selection, permitting, construction, and hotel management.”

The second accepted proposal came from Hyatt Place which he said had a “real well thought out layout.” Two units of hotel and multifamily would be wrapped around the parking garage.

Yellam suggested a number of questions the Council should ask the developers when those interviews were scheduled.

Nancy Scholl, a member of the Burien Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) and the chief finance officer of Wright Hotels, said that the hotel advisory committee had not had the opportunity to meet with the two proposal groups and said that would be important for the Council to do. Despite no face-to-face meetings, Scholl said that “we were impressed with their proposals.” She said there were “stark differences” in how each of the two groups would manage a facility. One group would itself manage the hotel, the other would hand off management to another.

Hugo Garcia, Burien Planning Commissioner, a business outreach specialist at Craft3, and also a Burien resident, said his concern was that the project proposers were not over leveraged and could finish the project even under uncertain financial economic strains. He said both proposers need to be asked about their ability to handle the project and both proposals “looked really good.”

Ed Kim

Hotel and apartments
Ed Kim of Seattle developer Hotel Concepts introduced Scott Clark of architects Clark, Barnes, which started in Ballard, and was chosen for the Burien project. Kim said the company, BMI Hospitality Management, has helped build and open 24 hotels in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, plus 15 hotels it owns separately but manages itself.

The proposal for Burien is mixed, with hotel and multifamily units, said Clark, with 140 rooms and “about 100 apartments” and the “concept is based on “observations of Burien.”

“We are providing parking which seems kind of contrary since you are right next door to a transit center but you are still going to need the parking slipping it in there in a cost efficient way wrapping it so you don’t see it,” said Clark.

The structure “is going to evolve as we hear more about the community, what it wants and the things that work best,” he said. Another concept he said was the possibility of a direct connection from the complex directly to the transit center. Another concept, depending upon an easement, is a two floor parking area, one floor for apartment residents and one floor for hotel customers.

He said there is always a problem with ground floor housing because of possible noise and other problems but wrapping with a garage would cut down on the noise of residents coming and going. Another thought, said Clark, was possibly not having a restaurant near the hotel, but using the restaurants already established in the general area.

Because of the company’s ownership of other buildings, some of which are fully paid for, those buildings would be used as collateral for construction and development loans to build the Burien units, said Kim. Estimated costs are difficult, he said, because there is nothing similar to it in Burien, but they are using $30 a square foot as a gauge.

Why Burien?
Councilmember Nancy Tosta asked ‘why Burien?’ and Kim said they have considered a hotel in Burien for a long time, but the request for hotel proposals spurred them on. He noted that partnering with the experience of the Clark firm would be of benefit along with the closeness to the airport. Kim says the city is nearly as close to the airport as some SeaTac locations.

“I sort of see Burien and Ballard as having a lot of similarities in he sense they always used to say (about Ballard) you are too far from I-5 – it will never develop,” said Clark. “What happened was that distance from I-5 protected the community from a lot of bad stuff.” He said that Downtown Burien has a character that “I think this hotel could really fit in well with and encourage…it is just a good, opportune time.”

Surinda Khela

A Hyatt-like place
Surinda Khela, of Northwest Real Estate Service, said he began looking at hotel sites around the state for a client “and we wound up here in Burien.” He then spent several minutes telling the Council of many of the hotel and related projects he and his associates have developed elsewhere in the state.

The idea for Burien, said Khela, is designed as a 112 unit Hyatt Place, that would have retail space, a 1,200 square foot conference room, indoor pool and spa and potential restaurant. Although listed as a Hyatt Place, “we are looking for a partner” so it could be any number of other hotels, such as Red Lion, Cambria or La Quinta, Khela said.

“This is going to be a huge impact to the community,” he said.

Print This Post  Email This Post

Comments are closed.