Walla Walla motels slated to be converted into apartments may include affordable units | Business

According to plans presented to the city by an Oregon-based development group, two permanently closed motels in downtown Walla Walla may soon become apartments, with mostly units at market rates, but potentially a few low-cost units. income.

The Budget Inn, 305 N. Second Ave., and Travelodge by Wyndham Walla Walla, 421 E. Main St., would be primarily converted to studios and one-bedroom apartments by Fortify Holdings, a Beaverton, Oregon company specializing in conversion of hotel spaces into residential and commercial spaces.

However, the group also expressed interest in applying for a multi-family tax incentive through the city, which would provide tax benefits for eight years, if approved by city council, or 12 years that would be approved by city staff. city.

The permanently closed Travelodge by Wyndham Walla Walla at 421 E. Main St. is empty during a snowstorm on December 30, 2021. Someone partially covered the light panel outside the downtown building -City of Walla Walla.

To receive this longer tax benefit, 10% of units developed must meet affordability standards for low-income residents, and an additional 10% must be affordable for moderate-income residents, according to Preston Frederickson, director of services at city ​​development.

The new Lodge apartments near downtown Walla Walla, completed in 2021, previously had a similar tax incentive, Frederickson said.

However, plans for the two motels have not been finalized, and it is not known how many units Fortify Holdings intends to build or whether it is committed to continuing the multi-family tax incentive. Fortify Holdings did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Fortify Holdings has already converted similar properties to Spokane and Pasco, Frederickson said. In September, the group presented a plan at a Richland City Council workshop to convert a hotel into studios and one-bedroom apartments, as well as a wine village.

The development group still has regulatory hurdles to clear before development can begin on properties, as Walla Walla’s municipal code does not generally allow residential units on the first floor of a building in the city’s commercial area. .

Earlier this year, Fortify Holding requested a code amendment to allow residential use of the first floor specifically for converted hotels or motels. The group went before the city’s planning commission on December 6, which recommended the amendment, commission chair Brenda Bernards said.

This recommendation will be reviewed by City Council at its January 10 working session and reviewed for approval at the next January 12 Council meeting.

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