Two developers have submitted competing plans to develop hotel complexes at Chambers Bay that could add high-end amenities to the county-owned regional park and destination golf course.
Chambers Bay LLC, a group made up of Absher Construction, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Columbia Hospitality, GGLO Architects and KemperSports, submitted a proposal to develop a site on Chambers Bay into a boutique hotel that would have up to 80 rooms as well as a public plaza and trails. Valiant Washington, made up of William Haberman, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Escalante Golf, submitted the second proposal and hopes to develop a 124-room hotel complex that would include a plaza and a dedicated space for a golf academy. Both projects would cost between $45 million to $50 million to develop.
The Chambers Bay LLC development team calls for a 60- to 80-room hotel and a signature restaurant operated by Douglas, which would serve as his first eatery outside of the Seattle food scene. Future phases could add more hotel rooms and even residential units along Grandview Drive.
Valiant’s proposal includes a 20,000-square-foot restaurant and 30,000-square-foot clubhouse under the consultation of Jones, who designed the former gravel pit into an internationally known golf course that opened in 2007.
Both proposals were designed to avoid blocking scenic views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range and play off the park’s natural setting and to draw non-golf related activities.
Pierce County is reviewing the proposals and will host an open house on the proposals from 6-7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at the Environmental Services Building. The full outline of the proposals is also available online, which allows anyone to not only comment on which of the proposals they prefer but what aspects of each or both of them are missing or should be expanded or even their concerns about development on the county-owned regional park in general.
“We are accumulating all of those comments too,” Pierce County Parks and Recreation Services Director Tony Tipton said. “We are gathering up all the feedback at this point.”
Staffers will collate all of the comments – both in person and online – as the selection process moves forward. They will then brief the University Place City Council on Sept. 19. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy will review the proposals and comments later this month with the County Council set to hear more details on October. The council will then select which of the developers to enter into more detailed talks over everything from the project’s timelines, lease terms, scope of the work and operational agreements.
“That’s where the real meat and potatoes of this process happens,” Tipton said, particularly since comments from the council and the public could lead to tweaks and changes. “We expect the proposals to evolve. These are just concepts at this point.”
This is not the first time the county has reviewed proposals for a hotel complex at the 930-acre golf course. A previous process for a much larger development fizzled in 2008. That proposal called for a 220-room hotel and a second golf course on the property but ultimately those plans proved too large for comfort and were abandoned. The 18-hole Scottish links-style course went on to host the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open with talks of more tournaments working their way around boardrooms.
The Chambers Bay Golf Course is part of the Chambers Creek Properties, which offers some two miles of shoreline, 6.5 miles of trails and two playfields. Chambers Bay is owned by Pierce County but resides within the city limits of University Place, which will be reviewing the proposal as part of its permitting process. Any development at the regional park must adhere to the Chambers Creek Master Site Plan, which was endorsed by the county and Steilacoom, Lakewood and University Place. Any proposals that deviate from that plan would have to gain support from each of those municipalities. The current master site plan allows for up to 124 hotel rooms. Both of the current proposals state they ultimately need about 160 rooms to make their projects financially viable, so negotiations on that front are likely.