New hotel might finally be coming to North Bend
March 15, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Bellevue developer submitted plans for two-phase project
A hotel might not just be a pipe dream for the city of North Bend.
Paul Pong, a hotel developer out of Bellevue, recently submitted his plans to build one, and possibly two, hotels on the corner of South Fork Avenue Southwest and Bendigo Boulevard South.
But Mayor Ken Hearing said that although Pong is “moving ahead” on the project, it’s far from being a done deal.
He said Pong has submitted all of the applications necessary for the city to make a State Environmental Policy Act determination.
“But there are an awful lot of environmental constraints, such as the property being close to the South Fork River,” Hearing said. “There are wetlands and some flooding issues.
“The SEPA determination will be the all to end all,” he said. “It can be appealed, of course. But if it comes back negative, it would be tough for him to move forward.”
Hearing said he would welcome a new hotel, especially in that location, just off Exit 31.
“We’re looking at attracting folks to getting off the freeway and coming into downtown,” he said. “The proposed hotel is close enough that people could walk to old town and see that there’s more to North Bend than just the exit.”
Hearing said 70 percent of the city’s revenues come from businesses, and people spending the night at a North Bend hotel would certainly increase that revenue base.
“But I want to be clear on this,” he said. “He will have to comply with every law. It will be done right or it won’t be done at all.”
Pong did not return calls requesting an interview, but he did submit a development narrative to the city Feb. 15 that outlines his plans for a development in phases.
The document states that the first phase would include a 106-room hotel, possibly a Holiday Inn Express, with a restaurant and conference room.
“A trail with trailhead and daytime shared parking is proposed for the community to access the river and adjacent levee trail. Design elements of the hotels will create a Northwest lodge feel with plazas fronting the streets,” according to the document.
The second phase could be an 85-room Hampton Inn, but the document states that those plans could change, depending on the economy, to professional office, retail or multifamily residential.
The 9.3-acre piece of land, owned by Pong, is currently zoned Interchange Mixed Use, which does allow a hotel.
Hearing said land by the interstate has gone through many different zoning changes over the years.
He said Pong bought the land “for a song” in the early 2000s from a man who had tried to get a hotel built, but couldn’t because the zoning wouldn’t allow it.
In 2006, the City Council changed the zoning, which allowed a hotel on the north side of the interstate, but not the south side. In 2009, an amendment was passed by the council, which added hotel use on the south side, Hearing said.
Gina Estep, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department, said Pong has submitted everything necessary for the city to conduct a SEPA review, and that officials are just waiting for a deposit from him before they go forward with the review process.
Estep said city staff members would then develop a determination and present a condition of approval along with a 14-day comment period for the public.
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or firstname.lastname@example.org.