Hotel to pull into the station

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It appears this sign in Keizer Station will finally be right, as plans are expected to be submitted soon for a hotel between Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

It appears this sign in Keizer Station will finally be right, as plans are expected to be submitted soon for a hotel between Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)



By CRAIG MURPHY/Of the Keizertimes

For years there have been signs in Keizer Station pointing out a hotel.

The problem has been the lack of a hotel in the shopping area.

It appears that is likely to change.

Two developers, both of whom have a long history with Keizer Station dating back to its early days, indicated this week plans should be announced soon for a new hotel.

While rumors of a hotel being built on Lot 21 in Keizer Station – between the Panera Bread and Outback Steakhouse – have come and gone, they have picked up steam the past few weeks.

Developer Chuck Sides told the Keizertimes last month he expected an announcement in a week. Though that didn’t happen, the issue has been moving forward.

When the packet for the March 17 Keizer City Council meeting was sent out last week, one of the items dealt with the default of payment on the Local Improvement District (LID) on behalf of Northwest National LLC and HTLKS LLC – two of Sides’ companies – for Lot 21. The resolution called for authorization to move forward with foreclosure on the LID lien.

City Attorney Shannon Johnson said during Monday’s council meeting there had been a change a couple of hours before the meeting.

“There was a new development this afternoon, for the hotel site,” Johnson said. “The item closed today. We got a check for the past due (amount) to bring it current. We got three installment payments and three late payments. It has now been brought current.

“The property has changed hands,” the attorney added. “We don’t know the name of the new property owner. They are trying to get a hotel operator.”

Susan Gahlsdorf, Finance director for Keizer, said on Tuesday the city got $151,831.16 from Ticor Title Company to bring the property current, covering the delinquent payments. The largest part was $65,327.70 for interest, plus $47,444.04 for principal, $25,192.63 for taxes and $12,892.54 in penalties.

Sides confirmed to the Keizertimes on Tuesday HTLKS LLC sold the property.

“It’s been slow going through this,” Sides said. “It was bought and now will be resold to either of the two groups (looking to build). One will be picked by the new owners to develop a new hotel. We’re thankful. It’s been a long time coming.”

While he won’t be the developer with the plans, Sides is still looking forward to seeing the project finally come to fruition.

“It’s a tough business, which we discovered,” he said. “We believe that’s the first site you see when coming from the north. Whatever is built there will be a first-class looking structure. It’s got the exposure off the freeway. It will be a brand name. It will add a lot to the site.”

Once plans are submitted and approved, Sides said construction would take less than a year.

“I hope they get going right away,” he said. “Traveling is picking up and the economy is picking up. That’s why this is happening.”

Developer Don Jensen confirmed he is acting as a consultant for the hotel project, but declined to name the new property buyer.

“They’re working with a hotel group that builds hotels,” Jensen said. “The guy who bought it was owed some money from Northwest

National. He was looking at developing it himself, but he found a hotel group to work with. They have met with the city. It’s a good group of guys, very community oriented. The hotel will be a national chain, but these are local guys.”

As a consultant, Jensen said his job is relatively simple.

“I put property and people together,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for the Keizer Station property. I want to see that thing completed.”

Jensen said plans could be approved in the next 90 days, followed by a year of building.

“It’s going to be a great project, a great addition to Keizer Station,” he said.

A hotel in Keizer Station would be the city’s second. The Renaissance Inn in downtown was opened in 1997 and underwent an ownership change last year. Jensen noted a hotel off the freeway should do better.

“This will be a totally different clientele, with people coming off the freeway,” he said. “Shopping and eateries are right there. It will be more the traveler taking a look.”

Jensen also confirmed he’s acting as a consultant for a power plant project on the Rawlins property in Keizer Station, a project mentioned last week in the Keizertimes.

“A power plant is the highest and best use for the property,” he said. “We’re hoping to get someone. It will take 12 to 18 months to just get permitted, with community meetings as well to let people know the pros and cons.”

That project will likely take longer than the hotel, since the property has to go through a sheriff’s sale process.

Once that process is complete, after 13 months the Rawlinses would have the opportunity to buy the foreclosed property back for $3 million.

“We’ll know by then if this thing will go forward or not,” Jensen said. “It’s next to the substation already there. It makes a lot of sense to build there, but there are still a lot of hurdles. I’m excited about the project, but just the permitting is a couple of million dollars. It’s a lot of money to invest. It could bring in $300,000 a year in property taxes for the city, plus 50 jobs of $75,000 to $100,000. With construction, it will be about $400 million to build it. That’s a lot of money invested in the community.”

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