NORTH BEND — Soon, the sounds of hammers and saws will give way to the grunts and groans of tenants moving furniture into the Hotel North Bend.
The refurbished historical building is scheduled to re-open in November, once work is completed by Harmon Construction Co.
While some detail work needs to be taken care of, the building’s new mint green paint job and windows have already pleased local merchants, including Brenda Sund of Epiphany & Co. Sund’s shop and upstairs apartment face the hotel.
“I can verify that locals … are so excited to see a brand new, painted, beautiful building in downtown North Bend,” Sund said. It already has improved community members’ pride in their downtown, she said.
Merchants aren’t the only ones having happy thoughts about the hotel.
Project superintendent Bruce Kupersmith described the renovation as “night and day.” And Betty Tamm, executive director of Umpqua Community Development Corp., said the exterior paint job, concrete repairs and replaced windows have made an amazing transformation. The Umpqua CDC owns the 1920s-era building.
“Mentally, I had an idea of what the finished product would look like, but it exceeded my expectations,” said Tamm, who visited the building last week. “I hope it will make people more willing to shop there and more willing to locate a business there.”
So far, 15 people have turned in applications to fill some of the 33 units in the hotel. Tamm said they will be reviewed to ensure they fit the criteria for workforce housing. Umpqua CDC purchased the hotel more than three years ago and began refurbishing it to house people who can’t afford the market rate.
“When we did our market study, that was a real shortage,” Tamm said. “It’s just very hard to afford something when you are on minimum wage or close to that level. Or especially if you are working just part time.”
Criteria to get into a Hotel North Bend apartment include earning less than 60 percent of the area median income. That means a single person can make no more than $20,280, and two people can’t earn more than $23,160.
The hotel features 24 studios and eight one-bedroom apartments, plus a manager’s apartment. Tamm said the nonprofit also is looking for businesses to occupy two commercial spaces on the ground level facing U.S. Highway 101, and for another commercial activity such as a coffee cart in the hotel lobby.
Kupersmith said the apartments are about 98 percent complete, and workers are putting together a final list of minor repairs. More importantly, he is waiting for Pacific Power to turn on the electricity today. The building has been on temporary power during the renovation process.
Turning on the power will let workers try out the elevator and install appliances in the apartments. He hopes Harmon can turn the building over to the Umpqua CDC in October.
“There’s quite a few things to do,” Kupersmith said. But that’s not a bad thing.
“It’s a blessing to have work at this time,” he said. “It’s been a good project for us.”