Moving on Up | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Moving on Up

Renovated motel shows hope for forgotten spaces in Bend

Brianna Brey

When the old Plaza Motel on the corner of Wall Street and Portland, at the edge of downtown, went into foreclosure, the formerly bustling motel had yellow tape around it most the weekends, explained owner Wendy Kelley.

"It was non-rentable and in shambles," said Kelley, who with her husband Pat and partner couple Vern and Gretchen Palmer bought the motel in January of 2012. The drive-up motel, built in the 1950s and converted into low-income in 2007, was a chronic problem for police, a parking lot that saw many a drug deal and shady happening. The space had been out of commission since the former owner declared bankruptcy in 2010. "I walked through it after we bought it and said, 'oh my gosh, what have we done?,'" said Kelley.

But the new owners saw potential in the ragtag building, and especially the river adjacent location just blocks from the heart of downtown. After seven months of permitting, demolition began and the full renovation, tearing down, ripping out and putting up transformed the 34 standard bedroom/bathroom motel rooms into lovely luxury suites. Now there are s15 spacious rooms with kitchens and two small sleeping rooms sans kitchen. The rooms are decked out with lots of exotic wood paneling and some hip corrugated metal, giving the building a facelift. At a cost five times more than they originally anticipated, Kelley and her cohorts are pleased with the new look.

"Our whole vision was to always keep it a motel and spruce it up as fancy as we could," explained Kelley.

With suites that range from 300-600 square feet, granite countertops, walk-in showers, and warm wooden accents on the interiors of every room—some are named after Bend staples like Mirror Pond, Mt. Bachelor and Smith Rock—and at a price point of $145-$195. Wall Street Suites has transformed an abandoned and forgotten space into a productive and oh-so-very-Bend business. The motel has a private dog park and gives guests a 64-ounce hydro flask if they can bring in a completed ale trail map! The motel is even waiting on a final permit to install its outdoor gas fireplace.

Not only does the upgrade help to boost Bend's economy and aesthetic, but it can be transformative for a neighborhood.

"Redevelopment of property is obviously a great reuse of property and materials," confirmed Craig Chenoweth, head of development services coordinator for the City of Bend. "If you have redevelopment in the area you'll see it can start a ripple effect."

While the edge of downtown isn't overrun with dilapidated buildings, the area still has room to improve.

"It reduces a chronic nuisance problem for the police department and is a great reuse of that property," said Chenoweth.

He also referred to the industrial and underdeveloped areas of First and Second Streets to the northeast of downtown as indicators of this development domino effect. With businesses like Locavore, Kombucha Mama and Second Street Eats renovating vacant or underused spaces in that neighborhood, Chenoweth sees the redevelopments as opportunities to improve.

"As a few of those buildings get redone and renovated and the sites get brought up to compliance and improved, more buildings will be redeveloped," he explained. "I really think that is going to be a driver in redevelopment. The new thing to do is have these shops and restaurants that are a little off the beaten path so they're unique to the area, a little local and a little edgy."

Wall Street Suites

1430 Wall Street

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