Port Angeles: Conference center developer walks away from project, blames lack of city cooperation

PORT ANGELES — Hotel/conference center developer Randal Jay Ehm bid an emotional goodbye to his project and Port Angeles as a whole Monday, ending three years of work on the waterfront mega-development.

“I have no choice but to withdraw from this project,” a visibly emotional Ehm told a Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience.

“It’s time to move on with my life. Thanks everyone.”

Ehm said because of personal losses he incurred, he also must dissolve Pier Group, the company set up to build the project, close his architecture business and sell his building in San Diego.

He based his decision to withdraw on a lack of private financing, the city’s refusal to consider a shoreline permit extension, the local economy and “insurmountable conditions” placed on the project by city officials.

Those conditions were owning the waterfront property on which the project was to be built before obtaining a building permit, and “proof of parking,” he said.

Project financing

Ehm said city Economic Development Director Tim Smith was quoted as saying he hadn’t seen any project financing beyond the city’s $2 million commitment.

But Ehm said he has put $500,000 of his own money into the project, and other project partners have contributed $300,000 and $400,000, he said.

“If the city’s economics change or if the city wants to reconsider my participation in the project then I would continue,” Ehm said, trying to maintain his composure.

“But it would have to be with someone else’s financing. I’m leaving Port Angeles to put my life back together.

“Goodbye.”

He then walked out of the Port Angeles CrabHouse Restaurant banquet room.

‘I’m free’

In an interview in the Red Lion Hotel parking lot, Ehm said:

“I’m free. My whole life has changed, thanks to Port Angeles. It’s a brand new start. There’s nothing left.”

Ehm said he called Smith before arriving in Port Angeles to say he was withdrawing from the project.

“I said, ‘We’re done, that’s it,”‘ Ehm said.

Smith said Ehm hung up the telephone so quickly from the airport in Seattle that he didn’t realize the developer would be making his withdrawal announcement at the luncheon.

Ehm proposed a full-service Marriott hotel with 171 rooms and enough banquet and conference space for 700 people on 3.8 waterfront acres at the corner of Oak and Front streets.

More in News

Recall petitions dismissed

Judge cites petitioner’s lack of standing

Clallam Transit awarded $3.6M grant

Agency plans to replace several buses in its fleet

Western hemlock could provide housing option

Mill processing trees, removing moisture content

Abbot Construction’s crew responsible for crane lifting the two-story concrete walls pack up as new crew members move in for steel reinforcement on Monday. (Elijah Sussman/Peninsula Daily News)
Jefferson Healthcare adding capacity, programs

Expanded services to be offered upon 2025 opening

Port Townsend to host planning event

The city of Port Townsend and SCJ Alliance will… Continue reading

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Siena Vo, 2, of Da Nang, Vietnam roams through a lavender field at B & B Family Farm on Wednesday near Carlsborg.
Lavender star of weekend fest

Plethora of activities set for annual event

August primary ballots mailed

Races to be narrowed to top two candidates

David Faber.
Ethics complaint names Port Townsend mayor

18-page document details four points

Port Angeles City Council approves clean energy grant

City OKs lodging tax request, bed and breakfast ordinance

A kayker makes his way between the pilings of a former floating log yard near the entrance to Port Angeles Boat Haven. Pleasant conditions and calm waters are expected across most of the North Olympic Peninsula through the coming weekend. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Passing through

A kayker makes his way between the pilings of a former floating… Continue reading

Law enforcement officers arrest a man who allegedly led a high-speed chase from Port Angeles to Sequim along U.S. Highway 101 on Wednesday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Man arrested following chase on U.S. Highway 101

Law enforcement officers arrested a man following a high-speed chase… Continue reading

Drought response activated on three water systems

Clallam County Public Utility District No. 1 has announced a… Continue reading