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Making Rooms: Eureka Approves Hotel Project

Council approves hotel project at former Eureka Chamber of Commerce site

The former Eureka Chamber of Commerce building and its surrounding property are slated to become the site of a new "upscale" 83-room hotel after the city council voted unanimously last week to accept a $435,000 bid for the parcel. The project by SJN Hospitality — which built the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Eureka a few years ago — was recommended by staff over a proposal by Alcohol Drug Care Services to use the current structure for a 16-bed crisis and sobering center. The single-story, 1950s-era building located on 1 acre that sits at the corner of Broadway and Hawthorne Street served as the chamber's headquarters for decades, but last year the business organization asked to be let out of its long-term lease after the city discontinued its contract with the chamber to run a visitors center at the site. While the city owns the property, the chamber paid for the construction and maintenance of the building under a 1957 agreement that had ownership reverting to the city in 2033, when the chamber's lease was slated to end. Last summer, the council agreed to pay the chamber $100,000 as "compensation" for the remainder of the lease and allow the chamber to move and create a business incubator facility in the downtown area. That, in turn, allows the city to sell the property outright. In February, a request for proposals was circulated for the property resulting in two responses: the hotel development and the treatment center. Rob Holmlund, the city's director of developmental services, says the SJN project was the one that most closely aligned with the RFP requisites, which included the ability to "purchase and develop the property beyond its existing condition," and generate tax revenue. Noting that the city is working to find another location for the treatment center proposed by ADCS, which currently runs the 56-bed Waterfront Recovery Services treatment program at the former Multiple Assistance Center and oversees 39 units of transitional housing at the Serenity Inn, Holmlund says funding has not been secured for the operations of the proposed project, and ADCS wasn't looking to purchase the property or pay a lease. Holmlund tells the Journal the hotel option is the "best fiscal opportunity for the city, as well as for doing aesthetic improvements" along the busy main street. In the General Plan update, the Broadway corridor "is envisioned to increase in density with taller…

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