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Clarke: Aim of Gwendolyn Hotel project to maintain, embrace

Submitted photo##Artist rendition of what the Gwendolyn Hotel project would look like if approved.
Submitted photo##Artist rendition of what the Gwendolyn Hotel project would look like if approved.
News-Register file photo##Picture of the corner of Third and Ford streets, where a hotel development is under consideration.
News-Register file photo##Picture of the corner of Third and Ford streets, where a hotel development is under consideration.

By ANDREW CLARKE
Founder, Hugh Development LLC

Hugh Development, a Portland-based real estate development company, is in contract to purchase three properties on Third Street in downtown McMinnville for development of a new hotel with a restaurant, spa, rooftop lounge and pool, along with retail storefronts and below-ground parking.

As the developer of this hotel, named the Gwendolyn after my aunt, I thought it important to let you get to better know me and my intentions.

I am a native Oregonian with a long history with Yamhill County. I love all the communities throughout our great state, and I share in being inclusive and welcoming of people who contribute positively to those communities.

My daughter’s grandparents lived in McMinnville for more than 50 years. They are hard-working people who raised four grown children and now have several grandchildren spread about the region.

I’ve spent many long weekends in Yamhill County with my family, extended family and friends. Through that, I’ve learned about McMinnville’s role as the heart of the county, about its growth and development, and about how special it has become to so many people.

Our goal is to maintain and embrace the community, and create a place where visitors and the people of McMinnville alike can gather and take pride. Our design intention is to pay homage to the beautiful and charming architecture of Third Street and meld our structure with the streetscape.

My team and I at Hugh Development feel the Historic Landmarks Committee and McMinnville Planning Commissioner were correct in wanting us to work harder at designing a building that fits as closely as possible to the existing context. This pushed us further in our design, and I feel we came up with a much better building in as a result of this process.

Change is tough, but we are committed to making our presence a positive one for everyone within the community. Here are a few of the many benefits we hope to bring:

- Size, design, scale and parking:

Our project is large in size, but its meticulous design standards will complement the historic look and feel of downtown McMinnville. With upper-level setbacks, the pedestrian-level experience of scale will be comparable to that from nearby buildings. And our below-ground parking will provide a significant offset to the downtown congestion that can result from new developments.

- Jobs:

We will provide immediate jobs in the construction field for qualified tradespeople. Later, the hotel will provide career opportunities by hiring approximately 70 people as waitstaff, bellhops, cleaners and managers, earning up to six-figure salaries. We will connect with Chemeketa Community College to provide a route to employment via its hospitality program.

- Capital:

The hotel will bring significant capital to the region through the CPACE program we have been spearheading. The program will help fund positive environmental aspects of the hotel, and remain in place to support other local organizations in projects for new area infrastructure and developments.

- Financial impact:

Our hotel will significantly increase local proceeds going into the Transient Lodging Tax fund, and 30% of that revenue flows into the city of McMinnville’s General Fund. Our high project permit values will flow into the city budget, and be used in part for local affordable housing projects.

- Environmental remediation:

We will be remediating historic gasoline contamination and removing both lead and asbestos currently proliferating on all three sites.

- Downtown development:

We will positively contribute to McMinnville’s Third Street Improvement Project through our work. For many years, all property taxes on our development will flow into McMinnville’s Urban Renewal District to help finance other downtown developments.

- Civic contributions:

Our hotel group and all of its partners will be identifying local community organizations for our contribution of resources and exposure through partnerships in our community benefits program. We will be contributing members of the McMinnville community.

In fact, we already have the first contribution underway — 50 McMinnville Downtown Association gift cards, each covering $50 of spending with downtown merchants, for clients of the Henderson House domestic violence center.

These net benefits to McMinnville and the entire Yamhill Valley region are very much in line with the community’s written vision to be a leader in area hospitality services. Visitors coming to McMinnville year-round will support local retailers and other businesses, which in turn will better serve local residents.

I appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts about the Gwendolyn Hotel. We welcome any of your ideas that will help us make this contribution to Third Street the best it can be for McMinnville.

Andrew Clarke is a Portland-based real estate and development professional. He combined studies in economics, real estate, community development and urban affairs in his degree program at Portland State University, and has been applying them in the field ever since. His projects include but are not limited to the Frances Penthouses development in Lake Oswego, and the Kenton Hotel development and Emmanuel Church expansion in Portland.

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