As we look out on our beloved downtown, one particular building stands out: the Great Western. Built in 1911, its unique architecture is home to the beautiful Masonic Temple and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s sitting empty.
We at I Heart Yakima believe the Great Western building is a crown jewel in the uniqueness of our downtown. We are wholeheartedly behind the vision of creating a boutique hotel in Yakima, and couldn't think of a better place to do just that. At only 2 hours from Seattle and 3 from Portland, we need a high-end hotel for the more than 15,000 people who come to our town each year, looking for the high-end experience that wine tourism requires. Ever been to the Napa Valley? Or for that matter, Walla Walla? Of course there are mid-range hotels and motels, they also offer boutique experiences that draw tourists who will spend big bucks. As the gateway to Washington wine, a city bursting with beauty, bounty and possibility, our town is screaming for a high-end answer to the "but where do I stay" question.
So, bravo to the City of Yakima staff who started the process to renovate the Great Western, the City Council who approved the go-ahead for the HUD loan, and to JEM Development for not only holding steady while the economy was slow, but for continuing to invest in our town. It is, after all, an expensive undertaking to renovate a turn-of-the-century icon. And JEM will be paying the bill, all for the betterment of our community.
If you're still wondering why this is a good idea, we present you with this fabulous case study: the uber-chic Ace Hotel’s newest development in…drumroll…Pittsburgh. Yes, the very same Pittsburgh best known as the dying industrial town is now seen as a "sleeper city." Why? Well, because Pittsburgh believes that it is worthy. According to Next City, while the Ace Hotel developers think that Pittsburgh is "cool," the most important part was "the shift in municipal ego that is inciting Pittsburgh to collaborate with Ace: The city is beginning to see itself as a viable option, a place worthy of a boutique hotel conceived in its likeness."
As we have said before, "We believe that what's been keeping Yakima from wild success is PRIDE. A strong community has grown from our humble roots, but to be a destination for the 21st century, we have to celebrate what makes us unique."
It’s time to put that pride to work, Yakima. It’s time to let your council members know that YOU believe in Yakima. YOU know we are worthy. You Heart Yakima, and know that it has so much to offer. Let’s get behind this.
Tell City Council you are behind a boutique hotel in Yakima. Send them an email here: Ccouncil2@ci.yakima.wa.us