By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
In most communities, an announcement about renovations in the works for a motel would be greeted with a shrug, if that.
But when your community has only *one* motel, as is the case in West Seattle, it’s big news. So that’s why, after publishing the news release sent last week on behalf of the Seattle West Inn‘s new owners/management, we pursued more information about what’s in the works.
Read on to see what we found out from the two key players with whom we spoke:
You might recall that the first hint at a new future for the motel site came in 2008, when Harbor Properties, which built Mural (WSB sponsor) in The Junction and is almost finished building Link in The Triangle, announced it was working on a deal to buy the property. That deal wasn’t completed, however, which is part of what paved the way for this, according to Lynn Sweeney, a spokesperson for the new owners.
“When that was really no longer moving forward, we saw it as an opportunity … Our family’s owned properties here for a long time, and I come from somewhat of a hotel background. It was a unique opportunity to step in and be hands-on and involved in the renovation.”
The involvement of hospitality-marketing/hotel-management veteran Jim Wilmer – Sweeney’s business partner — was a deciding factor, too. She explained that he’s been working a while on a concept for a lodging brand; they’re not sure this will be the pioneer property for that concept, but they’ll see how it goes: “Much more modern, more inviting, business-traveler-friendly, female-traveler-friendly … there are certain things with technology for today’s traveler that we’d like to try out. The bottom line is that we would just like it to be a clean, safe, friendly place to stay, with the chance to have some events and meetings there. Being born and raised in West Seattle, I know how much we could use that.”
Marketing the motel – which will keep the name Seattle West Inn and Suites for now – to the meeting trade is a big part of the plan. Sweeney says its existing meeting space, on the basement level, even including a kitchenette – “surprised” her when they walked through the property, as did the suites (yes, it really has “suites”). Jim Wilmer says the downstairs space is 1,300 square feet; they’re also planning on a 600-square-foot “meeting suite,” a hospitality suite and board room. A lot of meeting space for what he expects will end up as a 48-room property, he acknowledges, adding that the property already has “as many amenities as you’d find in a 200-room hotel,” even a full hotel laundry.
Per Sweeney, they will market outside West Seattle to some degree: “We definitely want to compete with the business-traveler market, to be a midscale price (for) people who don’t want to pay the rates they’re going to pay downtown but want convenient and easy access to downtown, the airport …”
As for specifics of the renovation, Wilmer provided more of those. We noted that no building permit was noted online yet; he said they’re still in the design phase, and that they won’t be doing much actual construction work – the building will get a facelift (he mentioned paint and steel), and parking-lot space will be converted into a courtyard. (There will be replacement parking “offsite.”)
No renderings yet, either: “We’re just in the final phases of selecting materials and furnishings and fixtures to put it out to bid.”
The lobby/check-in area will have a bistro/deli – not a sit-down restaurant so much as a place for guests and nearby workers/residents to come get food for takeout, no room service either – “the concept is self-service,” Wilmer explained. The aforementioned courtyard will be adjacent, as will a “living room,” and that’s where there will be places to sit for people who don’t want to just take food (or beer/wine that’ll be available) back to their rooms.
Those rooms will have new furnishings and fixtures too, as well as coffeemakers, microwaves, refrigerators, wi-fi, flatscreen TVs. Their actual configuration, as well as the main building, won’t change – “we like the midcentury aspect.”
Overall, Wilmer says, “We want to make (the motel) a focal point of the (Triangle/Junction area).”
New manager Joey Disque (whose background is described in last week’s news release) has been on the job since October, according to Sweeney, who says he “has done some great things – it’s been busy, and good. He just sort of tidied up … (to make it a) more warm, friendly, welcoming environment.”
And that’s apparently just the start.