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PORTLAND-The Portland Development Commission this week sent out a request for qualifications to experienced hotel developers interested in developing a privately financed 800-room hotel adjacent to the recently expanded Oregon Convention Center in the city’s Lloyd District.

Responses are due back no later than Oct. 31. From there, the PDC will select the most qualified and request formal proposals, which will be due in April 2004. If a bona fide privately financed proposal is received, negotiations for a disposition and development agreement would occur during the second half of the year, with design occurring during 2005 and construction commencing in the summer of 2006 and wrapping up no later than the fall of 2008.

The preferred site for the hotel is a two-block area bordered by MLK Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Holladay Street and Pacific Street. One of the blocks currently holds the Inn at the Convention Center, a run-down former Best Western the city acquired last year for $5.2 million. The city still must acquire the neighboring site to the south, the former KPDX television studio owned by local real estate investor Barry Menashe.

The city currently has Wright Hotels operating the Inn at the Convention Center on a three-year contract. Wright Hotels was interested in the job because it owns a neighboring, 170-room former Holiday Inn hotel and could easily run the Inn at the Convention Center with existing staff. Hoping to attract more convention business itself, Wright Hotels has re-branded the Holiday Inn as a Red Lion and has begun planning for an eventual expansion of the property to 500 rooms.

Wright’s hotel sits across Halladay Street from the city’s hotel and, like the city’s property, is located across MLK Boulevard from the convention center, which recently underwent a $115-million expansion to more than 900,000 sf. Wright Hotels GM Frank Finneran told GlobeSt.com this spring that one option for the hotel’s expansion is to add a 24-story tower on the south side of the site that could hold as many as 350 rooms, given current floor-area-ratio and height restrictions. It’s also possible that Wright Hotels would submit an RFQ to be the developer of the headquarters hotel and incorporate both its parcel and the city’s parcel into the design for a headquarters hotel, said Finneran.

According to the RFQ, the hotel the city envisions is a 3.5 star, full-service facility on par with a Sheraton, Marriott, Omni, Renaissance or Hyatt. In addition to onsite and valet parking, room service, food and beverage facilities, a gift shop and a high quality lobby, the hotel would include meeting and banquet facilities to complement those at the OCC. A direct, underground connection from the HQ Hotel to the OCC is also desired.

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