Marriott expects to take root at former cannery site

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WALLA WALLA — Ground breaking on a 121-room Courtyard by Marriott is expected this spring off Ninth Avenue and Rose Street.

Planning and development are in the works for the hotel chain in what is anticipated to be one piece of a multi-phase development, according to documents filed with the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency.

Ninth & Rose Hospitality LLC, which owns the former cannery site, is working with Jensen/Fey Architects of Redmond, Wash., and Walla Walla’s USKH Inc. office to develop the land, officials said.

Known in Marriott International’s portfolio as a brand for business travelers and families, Courtyard by Marriott is expected to offer 3,000 square feet of conference facilities, said Walla Walla City Manager Nabiel Shawa.

“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” Shawa said.

Between the new conference facilities and those at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Shawa estimates Walla Walla will have capacity for 700 conference and convention attendees.

“That opens us up to a whole level of conference facility capacity we can compete for,” he said.

Conference-related tourism is one area officials have identified as having potential for growth.

Tourism Walla Walla interim Executive Director Michele Rennie said last month the agency intends to focus this year on building Sunday-Thursday visitor traffic. Weekends between April and mid-November tend to fill easily in the fewer than 1,000 hotel rooms in the community, often due to wine, college and community events.

She said conference tourism has decreased, partly with cutbacks on government travel.

Construction is anticipated to last a year after a late spring start, according to a narrative filed with the binding site plan and hotel application from USKH Project Manager Greg Flowers.

The property will be divided into two hospitality sites, he wrote. The northeasterly 3.2 acres, located on the opposite diagonal corner from the retail strip mall at Ninth and Rose, is the planned location of the Marriott development. It is expected to primarily be accessed off Rose Street and will have a 30-foot setback from Mill Creek.

The development will require a shoreline permit, which will require a public hearing of the city Planning Commission, said Jonathan Maland, principal planner for the Walla Walla Joint Community Development Agency.

The westerly 2.6 acres will be designated for future development of a 111-unit hotel anticipated several years from now.

More than 900 Courtyard by Marriott properties operate worldwide. An estimated construction cost was not listed in the application for a substantial development, conditional use or variance permit, authorized by the Shoreline Management Act and required by the city.

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