Transportation

Sacramento County approves Hyatt Place hotel at airport

Sacramento County supervisors on Tuesday approved a new five-story business hotel at Sacramento International Airport, seven years after tearing down the old facility.
Sacramento County supervisors on Tuesday approved a new five-story business hotel at Sacramento International Airport, seven years after tearing down the old facility.

Travelers to and from Sacramento International Airport soon will have a place to stay overnight on airport property, although not as grand as once planned.

Sacramento County supervisors Tuesday morning approved a new five-story airport business hotel, seven years after tearing down a smaller one.

The county will team with developer Sonnenblick Industries LLC to construct a 135-room Hyatt Place within walking distance of both airport terminals. The hotel will include an indoor pool and spa, fitness room, dining area and 3,500 square feet of meeting space.

Sonnenblick, a Southern California developer, has built hotels adjacent to medical facilities, but company principal Bob Sonnenblick said this is the first of what he hopes will be several airport hotels his company will develop in the next few years.

The hotel will sit on a triangle of grass adjacent to the north side of the parking garage between the airport’s two terminals. Sonnenblick and airport officials say the hotel will be a major amenity for travelers from around Northern California who want to stay overnight before an early morning flight. The hotel also likely will serve business people and those visiting the Capitol on business.

Sonnenblick said the location on airport grounds should allow his company to charge a premium room rate. He estimated an average night at the hotel would cost $150.

“The advantage we have is that the costumer does not have to get into a minivan and drive 10 to 15 minutes each way to stay at a hotel,” he said. “Our hotel, you literally walk out of baggage claim and into our front door.”

The hotel represents a success for airport officials, who are trying to add amenities and promote their facility as a premier Northern California airport. It is a comedown, though, from what airport officials planned a few years ago. Originally, the new hotel was to be a high-rise built directly on top of the new Terminal B, allowing hotel guests to go from room to plane without stepping outside. The hotel’s lobby would have opened directly onto the terminal ticketing area.

But that plan proved too costly, and was shelved during airport construction. Sonnenblick later explored the possibility of building two hotels elsewhere on airport grounds, one upscale with extensive meeting and ballroom space, the other more modest. Marketing studies, however, determined the upscale hotel would not pencil out, he said.

The proposed hotel will, however, be larger and better appointed than the former Host Airport Hotel, he said. “We are going to build this beautifully.”

The project has been delayed by a flood-related federal moratorium on most new construction in the Natomas basin. But those restrictions are expected to be removed in May or June, and Sonnenblick said his company will be ready immediately to submit project plans to the county for approval.

Sonnenblick expects to spend about $24 million building the hotel, which is expected to open in late 2017.

The developer will pay the airport a one-time fee of $2.46 million for use of 164 ground-floor spaces in the parking garage for guest parking. Sonnenblick will also pay the airport a minimum of $900,000 in total rent across the first four years: $150,000 annually in the first two years and $300,000 annually in the next two years. Thereafter, rent payments will be based on a percentage of hotel gross revenue, estimated at $475,000 in the fifth year.

Sonnenblick has told the county it intends to enter into a “labor harmony agreement” with UNITE HERE Hotel & Restaurant Employee Union Local 49 when hiring workers to operate the hotel, according to a staff report.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Bee editor Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.

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