Tourism booming in Portland, but with a cost

Hotel development is bringing big bucks to the city

A downtown Portland block slated for redevelopment, Oct. 28, 2015 (KOIN)
A downtown Portland block slated for redevelopment, Oct. 28, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Several new hotels are planned for the downtown Portland area, which is good news for the city, but it comes with at least one significant loss.

The Lotus Bar and Grill, Oct. 28, 2015 (KOIN)
The Lotus Bar and Grill, Oct. 28, 2015 (KOIN)

“I think it’s inevitable it’s going to be sold.”

John Plew is the CEO of the Lotus Bar and Grill, a downtown Portland fixture for 91 years. It started as a pre-Prohibition soda bar, had a rumored connection to an underground brothel during the Depression and was the first legal gambling site in the city. But it could soon be torn down for an office and hotel complex.

“I mean, it’s tough but it’s part of not owning the real estate,” Plew said. “We’ve heard they may want us to reenter their new project but we are not sure that is what we want to do as well.”

Plew said they are considering a location to purchase or find a lease to carry on the tradition of the Lotus. Plew is trying to see the positives of the deal and hopes his company can benefit from the development.

“Looking at Portland as an opportunity there are a lot of exciting things and then there are a lot of challenging things with the downtown market.”

The Numbers

The Lotus site is just one of several hotel developments planned or already underway in Portland. 18 new hotels and between 2,200 and 2,400 new rooms are coming to downtown Portland in the next three years. That includes luxury, boutique and economy brands.

 

Early designs of 21-story hotel and office building in downtown Portland. (Ankrom Moisan Architects via NextPortland)
Early designs of 21-story hotel and office building in downtown Portland. (Ankrom Moisan Architects via NextPortland)

Hotel room taxes brought in an extra $5 million more to the city budget last year than the year before. The city estimates a 6% growth on that annually, which would be another $6 million by 2018.

City economist Josh Harwood said in a budget meeting that tourism is incredibly strong in downtown Portland right now. According to Travel Portland, the city had 8.7 million visitors last year, who spent $4.6 billion.

Among the current projects are the Oregon Pioneer Building, which is being converted into a boutique hotel, and a 13 story AC Hotel by Marriott which is being built on a vacant lot at SW 3rd Ave. and SW Taylor St.

Comments are closed.