PORT ANGELES — Demolition of buildings for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s $24 million downtown hotel will begin in September, shortly after Labor Day, hotel manager and tribal representative Robert Utz said Wednesday.
Utz said plans are to open the four-story waterfront-mountain view hotel by spring 2021, a different goal from the previous target of July 2020. It will include a restaurant and lounge.
The earlier completion date would have worked “if they would have started construction a year ago, but that did not happen,” Utz said.
“It’s going to be right around 100 rooms,” he added. “We don’t have a final on that yet.”
Utz said traffic revisions and a demolition schedule for leveling the 101 E. Front St. parcel will be available as soon as the tribe obtains more information from the contractor.
Utz said the vacant Necessities & Temptations gift store, a vacant garage and the still-occupied Downtown Hotel-Cornerhouse restaurant building will be torn down in a sequence that has not been determined but which could begin with the Necessities & Temptations building.
“We would hope to have the Downtown Hotel and restaurant to be last in the sequence and be operating as long as possible,” he said. “That would be ideal.”
The demolition and environmental cleanup will last up to two months, he estimated.
Environmental cleanup will begin as soon as demolition is completed. It will include extraction of 1,500-2,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with petroleum and removal of three petroleum-product tanks.
Operators of the hotel and restaurant were given 30-days notice Wednesday afternoon, a timeline that could be extended beyond Aug. 16.
“It does provide for an extension, as we know the general contractor is not able to make it until after Labor Day weekend,” Utz said.
“As of now, it provides a date of 30 days from [Wednesday] but it will likely be extended until after Labor Day weekend,” he said “at a minimum.”
Demolition and construction will not occur during downtown activities such as the Oct. 11-13 Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, Utz said.
“The schedules have been worked so there is no impact on any events during the course of construction over the next year and a half,” he said.
“Construction will not occur during major events, with the Crab Festival being the first, actually.”
The city issued a demolition permit June 14 good for 180 days that a tribal representative picked up June 17, interim city Planning Manager David Wechner said in an email.
“It can be extended if construction (or demo) is ongoing and they are calling for inspections,” Wechner said.
The tribe issued a press release Wednesday on the newly announced demolition schedule.
“Due to delays in the permitting process, the company contracted to complete demolition, Rognlin’s Inc. of Aberdeen will not be available until September due to school contracts they must complete over the summer,” it said.
Tribal Chairwoman Francis Charles said in the press release that the tribe is anxious to get started on the hotel.
“We understand that the disruption of businesses associated to our project is tough news but hope the community appreciates our longer term vision to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Port Angeles for future generations,” she said.
“We are very anxious to get this project started and are excited as the design plans emerge for our hotel.
“It will be beautiful and bring a sense of great pride for our Tribe and the larger community.”
Cornerhouse Restaurant owner Joanne Albertson, who has owned the landmark business since 1986, would not comment on the 30-day notice that Utz gave her Wednesday afternoon.
She told Peninsula Daily News on June 7 that Utz had told her she would have to vacate her restaurant by September.
Utz told her in a June 3 email that “it seems likely” the restaurant would be demolished in September.
Then-project manager Michael Peters is now a consultant on the project, Utz said.
Peters told the PDN on June 7 that it had not been determined that the restaurant building would need to be demolished.
Albertson told the PDN on June 7 that she did not want to paint the tribe in a bad light.
“I understand completely what they are doing,” she said.
She said then that she was acting as though closure of her restaurant was imminent and was already downsizing her staff.
The restaurant, hotel and gift shop were purchased by the tribe for an undisclosed amount.
The 0.3 acres of land and the improvements had a combined value of $762,000, according to the Clallam County Assessor’s Office.
The tribe had earlier purchased an adjacent 0.65-acre parcel for the hotel from the city for $950,000, including $300,000 cash and $650,000 credit to conduct the environmental cleanup.
It included the rental car businesses, the Larry Winters storage garage, Harbor Art Gallery, Olympic Bus Lines and Cock-A-Doodle Donuts.
The gallery and bus lines have relocated elsewhere in and near downtown.
The doughnut shop shut down permanently.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].