It's been a long time since Alki Beach was considered a resort for upscale visitors, but Thomas Lin hopes to change that. While hotel projects are...
It’s been a long time since Alki Beach was considered a resort for upscale visitors, but Thomas Lin hopes to change that.
While hotel projects are booming in downtown Seattle and Bellevue, Lin, a first-time developer, is taking a different tack with the proposed 48-room luxury inn he wants to build among the restaurants, cafes and condos that line the popular, historic beachfront community.
Despite the stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, the location at 58th Avenue Southwest and Alki Avenue Southwest is far from a conventional choice given the dearth of hotels in West Seattle.
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And Lin would have to first win a zoning change and an exception to the height limit from the city to realize his project.
But Lin, who bought land on a whim seven years ago, figures he has the right plan and the right property to pull it off.
Judging by neighborhood reaction so far, he will need a good dose of perseverance, too.
The concerns are not surprising, especially in a neighborhood that has worked to spiff up its image and shake off a reputation for summertime rowdiness in recent years.
Critics worry the hotel wouldn’t fit the neighborhood and would make parking tougher, said Tony Fragada, president of the Alki Community Council.
Some fear a hotel would attract a more nefarious crowd to the area; one woman told Lin the hotel probably would draw prostitutes.
“This is quite a big development at one time, and it will have a big impact,” Fragada said. “We are just trying to preserve what we have.”
Lin says he understands the concerns but insists he wants to enhance the neighborhood, not harm it. Otherwise, he would go ahead and build condominiums and “cash out,” he said.
Five years ago, Lin had the idea to turn his nearly $1 million purchase into a hotel that would provide the same kind of high-end scenic getaway as Whidbey Island’s Inn at Langley or Snoqualmie’s Salish Lodge.
“This is only 10 minutes away from downtown,” he said. “Far enough away to feel removed but close enough that you could go home and come back again if the baby-sitter called.”
Lin figures the rooms would cost about $150 to $200 a night.
In some ways, the hotel proposal would mark a return to the area’s roots. For much of Seattle’s early years, Alki was considered a summer vacation spot for locals.
The long-gone Stockade Hotel was built as a resort in 1905 a few blocks from Lin’s property.
But that rustic three-story hotel is a world away from what Lin envisions.
His Inn at Alki calls for an L-shaped building combining street-level restaurants, shops and a spa with three stories of hotel rooms, each with a view of the beach and water.
Lin also wants to create a public plaza on the roughly triangular property.
The project is far from a done deal.
Not only does Lin have to calm neighborhood worries, he must persuade the city to change the property’s zoning, which doesn’t allow hotels in the area.
Lin also wants to build the hotel higher than limits allow in exchange for providing more open space.
That’s a tall order for someone who is developing property for the first time.
Lin, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, is a former investment banker who runs a textile-importing business and a company that makes marble and granite countertops.
Given the task ahead, Lin is in no hurry. He hopes to begin construction in three years, he says, if he can get all the stars to line up.
“It is rare for anyone to run into a property like this,” he said. “I’m not looking for the next project; I want to hang on to this one and do it right.”
J. Martin McOmber: 206-464-2022 or firstname.lastname@example.org