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Posted on: March 28, 2013

Port Commission Considers Airport Hotel Development Letter of Intent

Travelers will enjoy a full-service hotel at the Bellingham International Airport, if a hotel development is approved and moves forward.

“We recognize that a full-service hotel is an important addition to our growing airport,” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “We carefully studied the proposals we received so that we could feel confident in the hotel developer we are recommending.”

The Port of Bellingham’s Board of Commissioners will consider a Letter of Intent agreement with the Hotel Services Group, LLC, in the board’s meeting next Tuesday (April 2). The Hotel Services Group is proposing construction of a Holiday Inn Hotel that would include: a full service restaurant, about 7,000 square feet of conference/meeting space, an indoor pool, underground and surface parking and approximately 156 guest rooms.

The company estimates the construction cost for the facility would be approximately 18.5 million. It estimates that about 40 full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees would work at the completed hotel and another 40-50 would work in the restaurant.

The proposed development site is approximately 3.77 acres of Port property, just south of the Pacific Cataract Laser Institute on Mitchell Way, across the street from the commercial air terminal. The proposed lease is for 50 years, with a 25- year renewal option.

"We are looking forward to creating a full service hotel that will establish a first class lodging, restaurant, meetings and banquets venue that the Port of Bellingham, the City of Bellingham and all of Whatcom County will be proud of,” said Dan Mitzel, Hotel Services Group chairman and managing member. “Establishing this quality of a hotel development at the Bellingham Airport will create, not only a convenient lodging option for travelers using the Port of Bellingham Facilities, but also a great addition to the existing lodging, restaurant and meeting/banquet venues already available in Whatcom County."

The Letter of Intent is a preliminary agreement that serves as an outline of the transaction and sets forth the main deal points with regard to the lease. If the Commission approves this preliminary document, both the Port and the developer would have a 30-day “due diligence” period for the Port to fully review the developer’s financial capabilities and for the developer to further analyze the site and complete financing plans. Hotel Services Group would pay the Port $10,000 for the preliminary agreement.

If the final agreement moves forward, the Commission would vote on a lease at its June 4, 2013, meeting.

In the Fall of 2012, the Port sent out a Request for Qualifications and Vision for a Hotel Development Opportunity at the Bellingham International Airport. The Port received four written proposals; all for nationally brand affiliated hotels. The Port Selection Team reviewed all four proposals and interviewed all four respondents in a competitive selection process.

Hotel Services Group is a Washington Limited Liability Company established in 2007 specializing in hotel management and ground-up development, currently operating eight nationally branded hotels in Western Washington. The corporate leadership team includes multiple hotel owners with significant hotel development expertise.

The Bellingham International Airport is operated by the Port of Bellingham, a countywide independent local government charged with pursuing economic development, operating transportation terminals and being a steward of public lands and resources. The airport is served by four commercial airlines: Allegiant Air, Alaska Air, Horizon Air and Frontier Airlines. Together the airlines offer non-stop service to 11 different destinations.

The Port also operates all Whatcom County transportation terminals including the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the Fairhaven Transportation Station (with Amtrak, Greyhound and Whatcom Transportation bus service) and marinas in Bellingham and Blaine.

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