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News / Northwest

Hotel eyed near Cowlitz County Event Center

Oregon-based developer in process of buying property

By Brennen Kauffman, The Daily News
Published: March 20, 2023, 8:15pm

LONGVIEW — An Oregon-based developer is in the process of purchasing land next to the Cowlitz County Event Center to build a long-delayed hotel on the site, which officials say will draw more business to the center.

The Longview Public Development Authority entered into a purchase and sales agreement with developer Devon Kumar during its meeting in September.

This week marks the end of a 180-day review period for Kumar to investigate the property and its related documents. The due diligence period is the final cutoff date for Kumar to formally approve or cancel the land purchase.

Kumar told The Daily News via text on March 15 the deal was not finalized, but he would provide more details once the review period ended.

The agreement shows Kumar is looking to purchase 1.8 acres on Seventh Avenue next to the event center for $325,000, with terms that require a hotel or motel be built on the site. A clause in the sale agreement requires that a certificate of occupancy must be issued for a hotel or motel on the land by February 2026 or else the land reverts back to Cowlitz County.

The hotel would be built on the land directly east of the Cowlitz County Event Center. Longview officials expect an eventual hotel to have 64 rooms, though Brian Magnuson, board member of the Public Development Authority, said there would be space to expand the building if needed.

The Public Development Authority was created in 2013 to avoid liability when developing properties around the event center, with its major focus on a hotel and an indoor sports center.

“My vision has always been to take those acres in the heart of Longview and find a better way to use them. That land is the most underutilized property in Longview or in Cowlitz County,” Magnuson said.

Efforts to build a hotel near the event center go back to at least 2010, as part of the master plan for the revitalization of the site. County officials asked Longview to create a Public Development Authority so they could control the property transactions and development.

The distance between the event center and the existing hotels in Longview and Kelso has posed a challenge for event bookings. Lindsay Cope, vice president of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, said the council and the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce have struggled to host regional events because of the hotel distance.

“There’s a variety of conference-type activities that we are not eligible to hold because we do not have lodging next to the event center,” Cope said.

As a standalone public agency, the Public Development Authority was given the authority to approve developments or sales at its meetings without an additional sign-off by the Longview City Council.

The land was not provided to the authority until April 2021, following a multiyear land swap negotiation between Longview and Cowlitz County and a lengthy transfer process between the city and the authority. Magnuson said the board had been talking to two interested hotel developers recently but liked Kumar’s history working with major chains.

Kumar is listed as the registered agent for PDK Hotels, an Oregon-based manager and developer of hotels. Business filings show that Kumar incorporated a new LLC beginning with PDK in Longview in November.