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May 18--By this time two years from now, guests coming to Walla Walla for its world-class wines will be able to stay overnight at what developers are calling the town's first contemporary four-plus-star hotel.

Developers who plan to revitalize the former 1907 Odd Fellows Building at 28 S. Spokane St. into The Penrose Walla Walla Hotel & Spa have provided a vision for the building, details of its ownership, and a rough opening for the massive downtown Walla Walla project.

Anticipated for an early 2019 opening, the project includes a "significant" new building addition to complement the existing main building, the developers announced.

The 82-room boutique hotel will have a restaurant, bar, meeting spaces and rooftop event terraces, and poolside food and drink service, all located in the restored building that is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The Penrose Walla Walla will be at the top of the hotel market in the region, expressing the essence of this unique place, and featuring the phenomenal wine and food products of the Walla Walla Valley," according to a description in the formal announcement this week.

"It's a snapshot of where we're at," said Seattle architect and manager Stephen Day in a telephone interview. "We're moving ahead and there's more to follow."

The redevelopment of the property has been highly anticipated as Day and partners have had contact with the city, county, Port of Walla Walla and Downtown Walla Walla Foundation over the last year.

Day has also spent considerable time on the federal level working within the guidelines for redeveloping the historic property.

One of the changes over the last year as a result has been reducing the scale of the proposed structure from 10 stories to four.

"The vision has changed, Day said. "We've gone through several different scenarios for the addition. We've scaled it down to more closely approximate the size of the historic building."

The construction is intended to complement what exists in the main structure. Similarly, the hotel development is designed to compliment what exists in Walla Walla with the emergence of an internationally recognized wine producing region.

Ownership group Penrose Hotel LLC has signed a letter of intent with Benchmark Hospitality to act as hotel manager.

Benchmark is an international company that specializes in managing distinctive independent hotels in unique destinations, the announcement explained.

Owners of the operation also include experienced hoteliers and other investors.

Penrose Hotel LLC is led in the development group by managers Day, Vince DePillis and Jim Treadway.

Treadway is a third-generation hotelier, past president of Westin North America, founder of MTM Luxury Lodging and a specialist in crafting independent hotel experiences. His project experiences have include Bardessono Hotel & Spa in Yountville, Napa Valley; The Willows Lodge in Woodinville; and Hotel 1000 in Seattle.

DePillis is a founding member of Real Property Law Group, a Seattle firm that focuses on collaborating with clients in real estate development.

Day, the owner of Stephen Day Architecture in Seattle, specializes in restoration, development and re-use of historic architecture and National Register properties. He started 30 or so years ago with a deep appreciation for the combination of "history and design and how they're both interwoven in historic buildings."

He's leading the design group for The Penrose. The hotel owner group includes experienced hotel owners and other investors: Margaret Clapp; Frank and Marilyn Clement; and Paul and Judith Gilliland.

The Penrose name is in honor of Stephen B.L. Penrose, the pivotal president of Whitman College in the first decades of the 20th century, and his wife, Mary Shipman Penrose.

The two were nationally known as progressive champions of human rights, cultural development and higher education, the announcement detailed. In 1906, Stephen Penrose raised the funds and laid the cornerstone for the building constructed as a YMCA and later used as an Odd Fellows hall.

Day said as design work proceeds more community outreach will take place. The excitement for the project has been apparent in his interactions, he noted.

"That's often the case with these projects," he said. "They spur other restoration and investment with other buildings and properties."

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, vickihillhouse@wwub.com or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/VickiHillhouse.

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