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Supreme Court declines to hear Foss Hotel appeal

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on June 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
June 8, 2012 4:23 pm

Could the tortuous effort to build a new hotel on Tacoma’s Thea Foss Waterway final be coming to a successful conclusion?

There was no definitive word Friday from hotel developer Hollander Investments, but the Washington Supreme Court this week removed what was the last major hurdle preventing the hotel project from proceeding. The effort to build a hotel on the Foss began a decade ago.

The court without comment declined to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling that the owners of Tacoma’s Murano Hotel lacked standing to ask the court to block a critical permit allowing the Foss hotel project to move forward.

Attorneys for KS Tacoma Holdings LLC, the corporation that owns the Murano, said they wouldn’t appeal further.

“No, we’re not taking this to the World Court or even the (U.S.) Supreme Court,” said David Bricklin, one of the attorneys representing the Murano owners.

Kate Buska, spokeswoman for the Murano, said the hotel owners themselves had no comment.

The rival hotel owners had kept the Foss hotel project in suspended animation for two and a half years while they appealed the issuance of a 2009 shoreline permit modification allowing the building construction to begin.

That appeal first went to the state Shoreline Hearings Board, then to the state Court of Appeals and then to the state Supreme Court.

Mark Hollander, president of Bellingham’s Hollander Investments, didn’t return phone calls Friday asking for comment.

In February after the appeals court ruled in Hollander’s favor, the hotelier said the hotel project was ready to proceed if the high court made a favorable decision.

Besides the courtroom battles, the hotel has faced multiple political and financial roadblocks since the Foss Way Development Authority first sought developers to build the structure a decade ago.

The Murano and a hotel workers union had lobbied the Tacoma City Council to delay issuing an environmental document needed to build the hotel more than three years ago.

The Murano’s owners contends Hollander failed to live up to an agreement with the city to staff its Marriott hotel downtown with union workers when he built the Courtyard across from the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. Hollander says workers didn’t want to unionize. The Murano is a union-staffed hotel.

The Murano also has complained that the 104-room Marriott Residence Inn planned for the waterway wasn’t the kind of upscale hotel the waterway authority had originally sought for the site.

Hollander said then that the Residence Inn has passed architectural muster from the waterway authority. As an extended stay hotel, the Residence Inn will fill a niche in the Tacoma market. It won’t compete with the higher-end Murano, he said..

And the project saw multiple developer proposals and half-a-dozen design changes before Hollander bought the hotel site.

Hollander is the fourth developer to propose a project on the site on the west side of the waterway between the Esplanade and Thea’s Landing condominiums south of South 15th Street.

Two developers originally proposed a project for the site. The waterway authority picked a developer from California. A hotel developer associated with that bid dropped out within months of the authority’s decision.

He was replaced by a Seattle hotelier who spent years trying to develop a plan that banks would finance. When the recession hit, that developer sold the site to Hollander, owner of a string of Northwest hotels including downtown’s Courtyard by Marriott and three hotels in Puyallup.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663
john.gillie@thenewstribune.com

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