A hotel in town? Developer eyes options

A Seattle developer with ties to the Island plans to purchase Vashon Village and build a 16-room hotel or another kind of accommodation in the grassy field behind the commercial park.

The new hotel or cluster of cabins will sit behind Vashon Village; the area is now a grassy field and serves as the site for the carnival at the Strawberry Festival each year.

A Seattle developer with ties to the Island plans to purchase Vashon Village and build a 16-room hotel or another kind of accommodation in the grassy field behind the commercial park.

Scott Shapiro, managing director of Eagle Rock Ventures, a Seattle real estate and development firm, has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the 4.5-acre site from Dan McClary. The deal is expected to close in November or December, McClary said.

Shapiro, in an interview last week, said he plans to build a 16-room hotel that could accommodate up to 48 people behind Vashon Village, a cluster of small, colorfully painted buildings across the street from the Vashon Library.

“We’re just in the process of working out the plans and permits,” he said. “We don’t have anything to share right now, but we will this fall as plans continue to solidify.”

In a preliminary meeting with King County planning officials in May, however, Shapiro described eight freestanding buildings and two additional buildings that could serve as a small conference center. According to tenants at Vashon Village, he and his wife have said they plan to build what they’re calling a small retreat center.

Asked if he plans to build a retreat center, Shapiro said: “There would definitely be people having retreats out there. … They could use it for their birthday, a wedding, a family reunion or a get-away weekend.”

“I really think there’s a need for a great lodging establishment that takes into account the charms and attributes of the Island,” he added. “There’s nothing of a size that can accommodate larger events on Vashon.”

Shapiro, who owns the 7,300-square-foot Spinnaker Building on 100th Avenue S.W., appears to have a track record in hotel and retail development. According to his website and press accounts, he partnered with Hostelling International to develop the American Hotel, a 294-room hostel in the International District in Seattle that was completed in 2009. He also developed Melrose Market, a small collection of shops between Pike and Pine streets in Seattle that was hailed as a “project of the month” by the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

The Vashon hotel, should it come to fruition, would mark the culmination of a long and sometimes contentious battle over the future of the parcel behind Vashon Village.

McClary, a developer who has built a few projects on Vashon over the years, bought Vashon Village for $1.6 million in 2005 with an eye toward constructing a 24-room inn replete with an in-house laundry, maids’ quarters and a conference area that legal documents at one point said could total 10,000 square feet.

To facilitate his request, McClary asked that the eight water shares he had for the eight buildings currently in place at Vashon Village be re-configured, so that one water share or meter would serve the eight buildings and the seven additional shares would go to support his proposed hotel.

The district balked, saying that McClary’s requested re-configuration of water shares — one of the most unusual requests it had received in years — went against its long-standing policy that only one meter or share could serve one building. Commissioners also had a moratorium on new water shares in place and feared McClary’s effort would amount to an end-run around the moratorium, opening up the district to additional challenges and petitions.

McClary sued, and the two sides had a back-and-forth legal fight that went on for 33 months and cost the district $50,000 in legal fees. Days before the trial was slated to begin in November 2009, the two sides announced a settlement, allowing McClary to build a 16-room inn and requiring that he use water-saving measures in the inn, for his landscaping and in the other buildings at the small commercial center.

But McClary never got around to building the hotel, in part because of the recession that hit just around the time of the settlement. McClary, now semi-retired and living in Southern California, said he is glad to be selling the property to Shapiro. The two have been working on a deal for about a year, he said.

“I’ve always liked to have a hands-on operation, and when I was living there, I was over there constantly,” he said. “I thought it was time to accept a good offer and let it go at that.”

District 19 commissioners, meanwhile, said they have no problem with the development of a small hotel that’s in keeping with the terms of the settlement.

“I’m presuming the agreement will be adhered to, and we have ways to ensure it is,” said Steve Haworth, a commissioner. “We acknowledged in our agreement that we were ready for this to happen.”

Should it be built, Shapiro’s project would represent the largest hotel on Vashon. The only other hotel is the Inn on Vashon in Burton, which has four rooms.


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