KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
The Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel and adjoining 48º North Waterfront Restaurant, shown Friday, are working on plans to expand and upgrade the current facilities, which will include incursion into the existing parking lot -- a proposal that would have an effect on the annual Port Angeles Crab Festival.

Port Angeles city seeks Red Lion expansion comments

Plans won’t affect CrabFest this year but will in future

PORT ANGELES — The public is invited to comment on the expansion of the Red Lion Hotel as part of the construction process that will impact the Port Angeles City Shoreline Master Plan.

Plans also will impact the future of the annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, which draws thousands of visitors to downtown Port Angeles from across the U.S. and British Columbia.

The Red Lion is planning an extensive remodel of the existing hotel and grounds at Lincoln Street and Railroad Avenue with construction beginning as early as October of this year.

The anticipated completion date is May 2026.

Hotel personnel submitted a request for a Shoreline Substantial Development pending SEPA determination permit on May 1 and because that application falls under the city’s shoreline master program it is subject to a public comment period, according to Jessica Straits, Port Angeles communications manager.

“The intent of the project is to upgrade the existing hotel and grounds to result in a built project which promotes the economic vitality of the Red Lion Hotel business and associated services as well as the nearby area,” reads the letter included in the permit application which can be found here: https://www.cityofpa.us/DocumentCenter/View/13151/PZ-23-29-SMA-Application-

The comment period will close on June 28. Comments are to be sent to the city Department of Community and Economic Development at ced@cityofpa.us and or by mail to 321 E. Fifth St., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

“The Red Lion Hotel wants to attract locals, tourists, and non-guests throughout the year through the creation of a public-facing plaza at the Northwest corner of the project site and the addition of a coffee shop and renovated restaurant fronting the plaza itself,” the letter continued.

The Red Lion Hotel’s plans to transform its parking area on the west side of its property into a pedestrian-friendly plaza poses a challenge to the annual three-day Dungeness Crab Festival, whose 17,000-square-foot tent has taken over the space every October for more than 20 years.

The internationally-known event shuts down Lincoln Street from Front Street to Railroad Avenue and takes over City Pier and The Gateway transit center. A large contingent of visitors come over on the Coho ferry each year from Victoria.

The 22nd edition of the internationally-known festival is still on for Oct. 6-8 this year in the Red Lion’s parking lot, but this will likely be the festival’s last in that location.

Scott Nagel, director of the festival, said Friday that Crabest 2023 still will be held there since the event will take place prior to the start of construction.

Nagel and city officials are discussing alternative locations for the 2024 version of the festival with one possibility being west of Laurel Street near Pebble Beach Park.

“We have been working on this for a couple of months now,” Nagel said. “I think this location will work out well and become the new home for the festival in the coming years.”

Donya Alward, general manager of the Red Lion Hotel, has said in the past that efforts were being made to come up with a plan that works with the festival.

“We understand the importance of the event,” she was quoted as saying in January.

Alward could not be reached for comment on this story.

The permit application for the Red Lion Hotel Expansion included a tentative three-phase construction schedule.

Phase one would focus on constructing the northwest plaza, pedestrian circulation, and landscaping, resurfacing the parking lot west of the restaurant, removing a driveway and repairing the sidewalk, and construction of stormwater management facilities.

That is expected to run from October this year to May 2024.

Phase two of the project would see the renovation of the restaurant to include a second-floor exterior deck, renovation of the current guest services and pool cabana building, construction of the port cochere connecting the restaurant to the guest services building, and the resurfacing and reconfiguring of vehicle entry to the property.

The estimated completion date for the second phase is November 2025.

The third and final phase of the project would see the interior and exterior renovation of guest rooms, improved landscaping between the hotel and the Olympic Discovery Trail, and patching and repairs to the existing parking lot, according to plans.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at kpark@peninsuladailynews.com

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