Remember how opponents warned that a $15 minimum wage would surely cost the city thousands of jobs, hurting the exact same low-wage workers the ordinance was intended to help? Well, in Seattle’s booming hospitality industry, not so much:
The former Red Lion Hotel in downtown Seattle sold Thursday for $130.7 million, or nearly $410,000 a room, the highest price ever paid in the metro area, according to hotel experts.
But the record price for the 319-room hotel, now known as Motif Seattle, could quickly be surpassed by the pending sale of the 120-room Hotel 1000: Two groups are buying it for $63 million or about $525,000 a room, according to a report this week in The Wall Street Journal, which didn’t identify its sources.
“It is the highest price paid (per key) ever for a hotel in Washington state,” said Chris Burdett, senior vice president of CBRE Hotels in Seattle, which was not involved in the transaction.
The record-price deals for downtown Seattle hotels are the latest good news for a surging hotel market that’s kicked off a wave of new construction. Downtown Seattle has roughly 12,000 hotel rooms; the construction of R.C. Hedreen’s mega-convention hotel and smaller hotels could add another 3,000 rooms to the inventory.
Wait. I thought the $15 minimum wage was supposed to destroy capitalism as we know it. And yet in the immediate wake of its passage, investors continue to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into an industry that is one of the city’s largest employers of low-wage workers. I’m so confused!
And it’s not just here in Seattle. Just weeks after SeaTac voters passed their $15 minimum wage, Cedarbrook Lodge, one of the initiative’s most vocal opponents, announced a $16 million 67-room expansion. It’s like the industry’s mouth is saying one thing while its money is saying something entirely else. Weird.
I can only conclude one of two things. Either paying hotel housekeepers and other low-wage workers $15 an hour won’t squeeze all the profits out of Seattle’s labor-intensive hotel industry, or all the smart capitalists investing hundreds of millions of dollars into our soon-to-be-living-wage hotel industry are in fact incredibly stupid.