McMenamins hotel on tap
The new Crystal Hotel will occupy prime land near the Brewery Blocks
Portland Business Journal – by Wendy Culverwell Business Journal staff writer
An eagerly anticipated hotel project in downtown Portland is taking shape after the spiraling economy temporarily shelved it.McMenamins Hotels, Pubs & Breweries secured a permit from the city of Portland on July 20 to proceed with its Crystal Hotel project at 303 S.W. 12th Ave., a former bath house, hotel and reputed gangster hangout that has been empty for about two years.
The hotel, slated to open this winter, will link with two McMenamins facilities in the neighborhood, Ringlers Annex Pub and the Crystal Ballroom. It also promises to connect the neighborhood with the Brewery Blocks to the north. The Crystal Hotel was one of two hotel conversions announced with great fanfare in 2008, then delayed. The other, TMT Development’s plan to convert the derelict Cornelius Hotel at Southwest Alder and Park streets, remains stalls. McMenamins, the popular Portland-based operator of pubs, hotels and other entertainment venues, intends to create a 50-room hotel and restaurant, catering to downtown visitors and patrons of the pub and Crystal Ballroom venue.
Michael McMenamin, president and co-founder, purchased the four-story building that will house the Crystal Hotel from Gerding Edlen Development in 2008 for $3 million. The Crystal complex will provide a welcome link between the Pearl District to the north and the West End to the south. The West End, an emerging district that is home to Jake’s Grill, the Ace Hotel, Living Room Theater and a number of restaurants, has become a popular visitor destination. Tourism officials regard the Crystal Hotel as an important catalyst for the neighborhood.
“It will be the linchpin to tie that area together,” said Jeff Miller, president and CEO of Travel Portland, the city’s tourism agency.
McMenamins planned to call its lodging venture the “Hotel Louie,” but switched names when it acquired the rights to “Crystal Hotel.” Plans to open earlier this year were delayed as the recession battered the hospitality industry. PKF Hospitality Research predicts a 19 percent decline in revenue for Portland-area hotels in 2009. It attributes the relatively poor performance to a 10 percent decrease in demand, coupled with a 3.6 percent increase in the supply of hotel rooms in the market.
With financing all but unavailable for larger projects, only smaller hotels like the Crystal are being done, the Atlanta-based research firm said. The Crystal Hotel will be the eighth lodging facility for McMenamins, which operates more than 50 hotels, bars and entertainment venues. The company, which chiefly operates in Oregon, doesn’t disclose revenue, but posted net sales of $26.9 million in 2008, according to Hoovers Co., an online business database. McMenamins, founded in 1974, oversees some of Portland’s best-known destinations, including McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale and the Kennedy School in Northeast Portland. Augmenting the Crystal Ballroom and Ringlers Annex with overnight accommodations is a long-held dream for the company. “It just flowed beautifully,” said Renee Rank, McMenamins marketing director.
The design, by Ankrom Moisan Associated Architecture, calls for a mix of traditional American-style hotel rooms with private bathrooms and European-style rooms with shared bathroom facilities. Plans include seismic work to brace the aging structure against earthquakes, a street-level restaurant, a basement soaking pool and connections to Ringlers Annex. The building occupies most of the wedge-shaped lot bordered by Southwest 12th, Southwest Stark and West Burnside streets. Ringlers Annex occupies its triangular tip. Prospective room prices were not available, though many McMenamins hotels charge between $60 and $150 per night. Rank said budget and financing information also wasn’t available.
Pacific Crest Construction, a Troutdale firm that does most of McMenamins’ construction work, is the contractor on the project. Permits estimate the renovation will cost slightly more than $1 million.