CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's long-time wish to construct a top-quality hotel could be fulfilled Friday (June 19) when the Oregon State Board of Higher Education considers a public-private partnership proposal initiated by the university.

OSU is seeking the board's authority to lease 3.67 acres of campus property to the Corvallis Garden Hotel Company (CGHC) for construction of a $10 million hotel and conference complex. CGHC is a limited liability development company and a subsidiary of Larkspur Hospitality Company of Larkspur, Calif.

"The hotel is going to be a tremendous addition to our conference center and athletic facility complex," said Mark McCambridge, OSU interim vice president for business and finance. "With the completion of this first class property on the OSU campus, we will be able to offer a broad range of services to those coming to the campus for meetings and athletic events that we were unable to provide in the past.

"It is exciting to have a public-private partnership like this work so well," he added.

CGHC wants to build a 156-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel and restaurant at 26th Street and Western Boulevard, across the street from LaSells Stewart Center, OSU's main conference space and auditorium. For a decade, university officials have identified the placement of a hotel on the site as the final piece in what could become the state's largest conference complex outside the Portland area.

Adjoining facilities already include the Stewart Center, the new CH2M-Hill Alumni Center, the Valley Football Center, Parker Stadium and Gill Coliseum.

If approved by the State Board, CGHC will lease campus land for the new construction. The proposed lease will run an initial term of 55 years, and could be extended for a maximum of 99 years. The proposal calls for CGHC to pay OSU a base rent of $25,000 per year, increasing to $50,000 by the fourth year, plus a share of room rent. Thereafter, rates will be adjusted every five years based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

When the hotel is fully functioning, OSU expects to receive about $100,000 per year from the agreement. At the end of the land lease, the hotel building and all improvements on the land will revert to the State Board.

Developers have already begun required planning with the City of Corvallis, which must approve zoning and issue construction permits. CGHC hopes to begin construction this fall, with completion by the start of OSU's 1999 football season.

Local officials say the proposed facility will help both the university and Corvallis become a destination site for extended meetings attracting groups of between 400 to 600 people.

"Up to this point, Corvallis has not been seriously considered because there has been no headquarters hotel here," said John Hope-Johnstone, director of the Corvallis Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Associations need a property that is close to the meeting facilities to house speakers, VIPs and staff.

"When we've told organizations about the possibility of this proposal, we've had a great deal of interest. We now have about 15 bid proposals for meetings here between 1999 and 2002."

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Mark McCambridge, 541-737-2447