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Goodbye Greyhound, Hello Huge Hotel

A new mega-hotel proposed for downtown Seattle aims to draw more big conventions to the city. The developer posted its official public notice with the city Thursday, as a first step in the approval process. The proposal is to build a 43-story tower on the block that’s currently home to the Greyhound bus station.

The hotel would rise to 500 feet, cover an entire city block and potentially alter the dynamic of the Denny Triangle neighborhood on the edge of downtown.

With more than 1,500 rooms, the hotel would get bragging rights as the city’s largest. The plans also include space for retail shops and low-income housing, which would allow the developer, R.C. Hedreen Company, to build up to the maximum height allowed for the area.

“I can hardly imagine what it’s going to look like,” said Joanne Engquist, pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church. “The city skyline is going to change dramatically in the next 10 years.”

Gethsemane sits directly across the street from the proposed hotel. The church was recently renovated to include 50 units of affordable housing. Engquist said she’s eager to hear more details about Hedreen’s plan for low-income apartments.

"We believe that it’s good to be able to live and work in the area,” Engquist said. “We’ve got those 50 apartments but they’re all full and they’re only 50. There will be hundreds of jobs that come in here.” She notes that could include jobs at the hotel in housekeeping, food prep and maintenance.

Megan Hilfer, a spokeswoman for R.C. Hedreen Co, says they haven’t figured out pricing yet for the rentals but the plan calls for 150 affordable units that would be rent-controlled for 50 years.

This Denny Triangle area is home to several services for low-income people, including Gethsemane Church and Mary's Place, a shelter for women and children. Pastor Engquist says she’s watched a lot of people step off the Greyhound bus and cross the street to find some help. She’s disappointed that connection and convenience will be lost, as the bus station is expected to relocate south of downtown.

Naresh Bhatt owns a UPS store adjacent to the proposed hotel. He recalls some upswing in business as other big hotel and condo towers have popped up nearby.

“It’s exciting,” Bhatt said. “Once the hotel goes in, it’ll be great for this area. There will be lots of opportunity for businesses and tourists. I’m seeing that having more residential as well as businesses here is boon for everyone.”

Bhatt said he’s not worried about losing his view or sunlight in his store windows.

On the Greyhound block, a few businesses have already posted moving notices in their windows. One shop owner says he’s not sure what he’ll do next. Another is surprised to hear the hotel hopes to break ground next year.

The city has scheduled a public meeting on April 16 to review the building’s proposed design.

Year started with KUOW: 2006