RICHLAND, Wash. -- Tri-city area hotels saw the highest occupancy rates in history in 2011, with a 5.1% increase. Growth in Benton and Franklin counties in the past year may have attracted developers to put up five new hotel projects in Richland.
"Richland and the Tri-Cities are just good places to do business. We have a 2% growth each year," the Economic Development Manager for the City of Richland, Gary Ballew.
There's been a lot of interest in hotels, so it's about 600 rooms that are at least proposed," says Ballew. Two projects are
at Columbia Point, next to Anthony's and across the street.
One project, under construction, slated to open this Winter is the Marriott Townplace Suites, 90 extended stay units.
A higher end extended hotel is also almost completed on George Washington Way. It will be a bit pricier to stay at the 116 room Homewood Suites Waterford Place.
Then there are two projects that just need financing, including the Lodge at Columbia Point, a project done by Walla Walla native, Tom Drumheller, the developer for Escape Lodging our of Oregon.
"The economy is great here. There is nothing like it here. The 82 room boutique hotel is four stories tall, It's going to have a wine Northwest feel to it," says Drumheller who hopes to get the financing organized by Summer.
"The boutique hotel is very high end. It's something we just don't have in this market right now we have a lot of wine tours coming in, a lot of them with a lot cash," says Ballew.
Stew Stone is trying to come up with international investors to put up two different hotels at the golf course in Horn Rapids, An Embassy Suites and Hilton project, with a total of 285 rooms. "You have corporate retreats where they're not going to book anywhere but a resort," says President and CEO if the Tri-Cities Visitor Convention Bureau Kris Watkins.
She does however say, that if these hotels all go up together, it could hurt existing business, "So what that means is business is spread out more. which means occupancies will most likely drop," says Watkins.