New downtown Healdsburg hotel proposed

A private parking lot just south of the Healdsburg Plaza is targeted as the site for a new boutique hotel, adding more upscale lodging to the popular tourist town.

The Kessler Collection, a Florida-based hotel company, has an option to purchase the parcel in downtown Healdsburg, according to the property owner.

And the company also is negotiating with the city to meet parking and other requirements for the project, described as ranging from 60 to 70 rooms, and four to five stories in height, said several people briefed on the details.

"It's a pretty big project," said contractor Jerry Eddinger, who was offered the job as project manager, then declined citing other commitments.

Eddinger, a former mayor and currently chairman of the city planning commission, said the company wants to develop its first California property and has looked at sites in Napa, Petaluma and Sonoma.

"Healdsburg is the first choice," he said.

Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce officials say the city needs more hotel rooms, especially on busy weekends when visitors are sent to neighboring communities such as Geyserville or Cloverdale.

Healdsburg leaders appear receptive to the prospect of a new hotel and the economic boost it can bring, in contrast to Sonoma, another tourist magnet where the City Council placed a controversial measure on the November ballot that would limit hotel development.

But the Healdsburg project is far from a done deal and there has been no formal application.

In response to inquiries from The Press Democrat, company Chairman and CEO Richard Kessler released a statement saying "in the near future, we will propose to the City of Healdsburg a comprehensive development of a 4-star boutique hotel."

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