Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, June 09, 2008

"WSU hotel, conference center in limbo; Corporate Pointe president says weak economy slowing progress"

Remember what Duane Brelsford, Jr. stated about the new stormwater regulations that will cost his Corporate Pointe Developers about $100,000 a year?
What can I say? We actually don't have a say. The state imposes it on the city and the city imposes it on people with impervious surfaces. No one has the money to handle this.
Now, Brelsford is slowing down development of the new WSU hotel and conference center because of the "challenging economic environment."

Listen folks, every time Dino Rossi shows up in Whitman County, we've got to tell him about this stormwater problem and how its killing our economy. Dino needs to pledge to us that he will clean house at the Department of Ecology once he's elected.

From last Tuesday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Construction on a proposed hotel and conference center on the Washington State University campus is on hold due to the state of the economy.

WSU chose Corporate Pointe Developers in December to lead the construction of the estimated $25 million facility, but progress has stalled while the Pullman company hammers out the details necessary to proceed, said Ryan Ruffcorn, a project manager for WSU Capital Planning and Development.

"Obviously, we'd like to have it happen quickly and as soon as possible," he said. "We're not seeing a project built that we feel would be a great asset to the community."

Corporate Pointe still is compiling an outline for the project, which involves securing financing and completing a market analysis and preliminary design, among other things. A nonbinding letter of intent will then be signed by both parties as an agreement to the project's scope.

Corporate Pointe President Duane Brelsford Jr. said the project is stalled because of the "challenging economic environment." In December, he estimated the project could begin late this year, or in early 2009.

He said there is no "average" timeline for projects when the economy is less than ideal.

"What we're struggling with right now is the current economy. That affects construction costs ... finding a long-term lender and development capital," he said. "We're plugging through it slowly. We want to do it once and we want to do it right. We hope the economy starts leveling out after the elections."

The hotel and conference center would be built on North Fairview Drive, just east of the WSU Student Recreation Center. The project is expected to include a 120-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot conference center.

Brelsford has indicated that he wants his company to own and manage the facilities upon completion and lease the land from the university. He also plans to build condominiums on an adjacent property and is gathering a team of investors for the project.

Brelsford said although progress is slow, the university should not question his team's commitment to in the project.

"We are the intended developers for the project," he said. "We are committed to make this project work. We want it to be successful; that's why we're taking it slow."

Ruffcorn said the university is prepared to be patient.

"We understand there are a lot of different issues that impact a process. A lot of things have to come together. It's possible that it could take a while to reach that deal point," he said. "But we're hopeful that we'll be able to reach an agreement."

Ruffcorn said although WSU does not have a binding contract with Corporate Pointe, the university hasn't yet started looking for another developer to work with. For now, university officials will chalk up the delay to documents being fine-tuned, he said.

"We don't want to go through the process and have it fail," he said. "We haven't set a date to say, 'You have to have this in place and that we have to have it complete' ... We just want to partner with (Brelsford) to make a successful project.

"We would consider stopping negotiations if the developer is not actively trying to work the problem and not putting their best effort forward ... and that's not the case," he added. "We've selected them, and we're not negotiating with anyone else."

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