A 60-room, $6 million hotel is coming to John Day.
The project was announced to an overflow crowd at the John Day City Council and the planning commission meeting Nov. 12 at the John Day Fire Hall.
The hotel will be located near the Oregon Pine Property east of Patterson Bridge Road. The city plans to sell the 1.7 acres of land it owns at the site for $74,052 — $1 per square foot — to facilitate the deal.
"The city will hold a public hearing before the John Day Planning Commission related to the land partition of the Oregon Pine property and site design for the future hotel," said John Day City Manager Nick Green. "If the planning commission approves the site design and land partition, the city council will then hold a public hearing on the sale of the property. We are going to try and hold that meeting immediately following the planning commission hearing."
Notice of the hearing will be published in the Blue Mountain Eagle 21 days prior to the meeting. The goal is to schedule these hearings in February.
There will possibly be a study session with the planning commission in January to review the application materials and address any concerns in preparation for the public hearing in February, according to Green.
"Site design review will include a traffic impact analysis, which has to be reviewed by Oregon Department of Transportation since access to the hotel is from a state highway," Green said. "ODOT staff have been consulted on the preliminary design, but the final application will not be submitted for their review until the traffic impact analysis is complete in early to mid-January."
If all approvals have been met, the hotel group will be able to go into construction in March 2020.
Green revealed that the city has been working with the Priday family, a hotel investment group from Central Oregon, for three months.
The Priday family plans to name the hotel the “Inn at Whiskey Flat” and begin construction in the spring. Court Priday shared with the audience what they could expect from the investment.
“We try to be the very best in the towns that we come into,” Priday said. “We like to be involved in the community ... you’re not going to have a company where you hear about the owner but never see them.”
The Inn at Whiskey Flat is expected to bring thousands of dollars to the community through property taxes. According to Green, the city could receive around $50,000- $60,000 a year in taxes from the hotel.
However, that will not happen for six years. Because the hotel development is part of John Day’s “innovation gateway project,” it includes a temporary property tax abatement. The gateway was created to spur economic development.
Priday said hotel construction will take nine to 12 months. He said the family is in negotiation with two building contractors to take on the project.
The Pridays currently own five other hotels in Oregon: Best Western Prineville Inn, Inn At Cross Keys Station, Best Western Newberry Station, Best Western Rory & Ryan Inns and Rory & Ryan Inns.
“We want to bring a product to John Day that everybody would be proud of and hopefully be a jump start for the new vision that Nick has for the city,” said Priday.
In other city council and planning commission news:
• Results from the feasibility study regarding a pool in Grant County will come back in Feb. 2020. The study will answer questions such as how the pool will be paid for and what kind of plan will be put before voters in May or November 2020.
The next big focus for phase two of the innovation gateway project are the reclaimed water facility project, a bridge at Oregon Pine, the Charolais Heights Street Improvements, the completion of the Integrated Park System Trail Network, the Aquatic Center Feasibility Study, the Kam Wah Chung Visitors Center and the Inn at Whiskey Flat
• The city council and the planning commission approved an ordinance amending the John Day Comprehensive Plan and Development Code to adopt policies and codes for the Innovation Gateway Plan.
Plans such as redesigning and relocating John Day’s wastewater treatment plant, re-using water from a proposed state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, which will be new, for a new water garden and hydroponic greenhouses and constructing roads and trails providing access and circulation within the area will now move forward with the amendment.
• The city council and the planning commission approved an ordinance amending the John Day Development Code to comply with the Federal Flood Plain Management Regulations relating to city participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
This amendment will help promote public health, safety and minimize public and private losses due to flooding in flood hazard areas. This amendment will also adopt the best available geographic data which defines locations that are at a high risk of flooding.
• The city council and the planning commission approved an ordinance to adopt minor development code amendments that will broaden the conditions for temporary recreational vehicles used as dwellings in all zones and allow housing units that existed prior to Nov. 24, 2005 to convert back to residential if it was occupied as business.
There is now a maximum time limit of 18 months for dwelling in an RV during the construction of a house. RV owners caring for sick family members would have to renew their permits yearly.
• The planning commission approved Tom and Patty Salvino, the owners of a property on East Main Street, for a conditional use permit that will allow them to temporarily reside in an RV on their property, which is zoned residential general, for up to one year.