PORT ANGELES — The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has signed a purchase agreement to buy the land and buildings that house the Cornerhouse Restaurant and Lounge, the Downtown Hotel and the Necessities & Temptations gift shop, tribal Project Manager Michael Peters said.
The purchase of the property at Front and Laurel streets from Port Angeles-based 7C’s LLC holding company is expected to close in mid-April, Peters announced in a Friday press release.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said in an interview.
The parcel is directly adjacent to the site of the tribe’s planned $24-million, four-story, approximately 100-room hotel. The tribe plans a target opening date of July 2020.
The purchase price for the 0.3-acre parcel was not disclosed.
The land valued at $157,336 and improvements valued at $604,303 have a combined market value of $761,639, according to the Clallam County Assessor’s Office.
The tribe did not buy the businesses, Peters said.
Necessities & Temptations gift shop owner Edna Petersen began a liquidation sale in early March after announcing the shop would close.
“Necessities and Temptations is coming down immediately,” Peters said of demolition plans.
“That will be our lay-down area while we construct the hotel.”
Peters said the store’s footprint area also could fulfill parking needs after the hotel is completed and serve as a potential hotel-expansion site.
He said expansion may be needed after other planned downtown projects — such as the $45 million Port Angeles Waterfront Center and Eric Dupar’s $22 million, five-story retail-condominium-parking garage project — begin drawing more people to the city.
“We don’t think our 100 rooms will meet the current demand on an annual basis, especially when the Waterfront Center gets operating,” Peters said.
Tribal officials are working with business owners of the Cornerhouse Restaurant and Downtown Hotel, located in the same structure, to discuss their continued operations, Peters said. The tribe’s hotel will include a restaurant.
“We have no plans to demolish that building in the short term, meaning the next two or three years,” he said.
“Whatever that time frame might be, we plan on leaving it there at least in hopes that those buildings continue to operate under present management or under our management.
“We will probably be using the hotel for construction workers and stuff like that to rent rooms, anyway.
“We’ll see what niche that hotel offers.”
The tribe may invest in upgrading the Cornerhouse, Peters added.
7C’s is listed in county Assessor’s Office records as the owner of the 101 E. Front St. parcel.
7C’s owns $2.5 million of property in the city of Port Angeles and surrounding area, including East Beach Road west of the city, according to the Assessor’s Office.
Tim Chamberlain, listed by the state Secretary of State’s Office corporations division as the registered agent, is the manager of the Downtown Hotel.
“We have been discussing a rent-back agreement and other possible arrangements with the tribe to continue keeping The Downtown Hotel in operation for the time being,” Chamberlain said Saturday in an email.
“We’re very pleased to hear they wish to keep the Cornerhouse Restaurant in as a tenant, as well.
“Overall, I think the family made the right decision in selling.
“The enormous scale of the tribal hotel project, once it’s finished, makes me wonder about the long-term viability of our little lodgings right next door.”
Chamberlain said Saturday that his mother, Florence Chamberlain, who lives on the East Beach Road property, is the manager of 7C’s.
The parcel the tribe is purchasing is owned by eight descendants of Joseph Hoare and Frances Filion Hoare.
In the 1950s, the couple purchased the property on which the Cornerhouse Restaurant and Necessities & Temptations sit, Chamberlain said. The late Joseph Anthony “Butch” Hoare, who was Petersen’s partner for 26 years, was the son of Joseph and Frances Hoare.
Environmental cleanup and remediation of hazardous substances on the site, where a working garage was located, is planned for this spring. It will include the removal of 2,000 tons of contaminated soil.
The decision about whether to apply for federal trust status for the parcel, under which the tribe would not pay property taxes, will be tied to the successful completion of environmental cleanup, Peters said Saturday.
The property taxes on the newly purchased site are $7,933 for 2019, according to the Assessor’s Office.
The tribe would pay fees for city services such as police and fire protection in lieu of property taxes, Peters has said about the original hotel site, which was purchased as surplus from the city.
The tribe cannot apply for trust status until the cleanup is complete, a process that includes four straight quarterly reports from the state Department of Ecology that the site is clean of pollutants, Peters said.
“It could be a year or it could be several years depending on the type of cleanup we do,” he said of the tribe seeking trust status.
The tribe purchased the 0.65-acre parcel for the hotel from the city for $950,000, including $300,000 cash and $650,000 credit to conduct the cleanup.
Peters said he expects the property to meet the four-consecutive-quarters report card from Ecology within a year of the cleanup.
The trust status application could be submitted in two years, or three years at most, Peters said.
Peters could not estimate how long the federal government would take to act on the request.
“I’ve seen it happen as quickly as six months and as long as 10 years,” Peters said.
“It all depends on who is in power, quote unquote, and who is appointed to those secretary positions and the priority they lay on these [applications],” he said.
Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles saw the new acquisition as an important step in the tribe’s and the city’s future.
“Our tribe is pleased to have the opportunity to acquire this parcel to allow planning for future growth for our hotel and related facilities,” Charles said in the press release.
“We are proud to be a partner and a leader in the revitalization of downtown Port Angeles.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].