Seattle group building a luxury hotel and spa for Walla Walla wine tourists

A Seattle partnership group has announced plans to renovate and expand an historic building in downtown Walla Walla, at 28 S. Spokane St.

The vacant former YMCA will be converted into an 82-room luxury hotel and spa catering to wine tourists.

Architect Stephen Day, attorney Vince DePillis and hotelier Jim Treadway are developing what will be called the Penrose Walla Walla Hotel & Spa.

They said in a press release that the original 1907 building, later used as an Odd Fellows Hall, will be linked to a new four-story companion building. The Penrose will have a spa, bar and restaurant, meeting rooms and rooftop terraces.

Cornices will be restored on the original building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Treadway has considerable experience in the hotel field. He’s the past president of Westin North America and the founder of MTM Luxury Lodging. At MTM, he oversaw development of Hotel 1000 in downtown Seattle and Willows Run in Woodinville.

The Sorrento Hotel and Semiahmo Resort are also in the MTM portfolio. Treadway is still the president and chairman of MTM. The Penrose is a side project and will not be part of that portfolio.

The ownership group, Penrose Hotel LLC, also includes other Seattle investors. Two years ago, they paid $589,000 for the building and the half-acre site.

Whitman College is a 10-minute walk from the hotel, across Mill Creek. The north side of the Penrose will face the creek.

The hotel will be named for Whitman College’s third president, Stephen Penrose (1864-1947), and his wife, Mary Shipman Penrose. Penrose himself laid the cornerstone of the building that will be renovated.

Day, of Stephen Day Architecture, said the partners hope to begin construction this fall and finish by early 2019. Day will be lead architect for the project. His past historic renovation projects include the Arctic Club Hotel and Union Station.

The Penrose site is across the street from Charles Smith Wines. In recent years, Walla Walla has seen huge growth in wine tourism, with new restaurants and tasting rooms downtown and in the surrounding area.

There are over 120 wineries and tasting rooms in and around Walla Walla. A 2012 report by the Washington Wine Commission estimated that economic impact of Walla Walla’s wine industry, including tourism, was about $500 million (out of $8.6 billion statewide).

Demand for hotel rooms has far outpaced supply for a long time. Day said the Penrose will be the city’s first major new hotel in many years.

It will be managed by Benchmark Hospitality.


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