Bend Central District, House leaders question plan for Rainbow Motel

The Bend Central District Business Association and the Bend Chamber of Commerce wrote letters to city leaders questioning their leadership on the issue of homelessness and a decision to purchase the Rainbow Motel property and turn it into a low barrier shelter.

“The City’s actions – or lack thereof – regarding these two issues in particular, and their broader impacts on the livability, drivability, viability and vision of the Bend Central District, are of grave concern to the BCDBA,” said BCDBA President Kurt Alexander.

In January, city councilors voted to spend more than $4 million to purchase the Rainbow Motel property on NE Franklin Street.

Immediate plans are to turn the motel into a low-barrier homeless shelter later this year.

Beyond that, the city said the site could be used for a new city hall, housing or public space.

But the Bend Central District Business Association says the current plans don’t match the plans the city has had for this part of town for years.

“The Bend Central District has long been the centerpiece of broader inner city redevelopment efforts, which have been identified as a critical part of helping Bend grow in a diverse and sustainable way,” Alexander said in a statement. E-mail. “Despite many ongoing efforts to work with the City to manage the issue, the City’s lack of action regarding homeless camps on 2nd Street combined with their reversal of opinion on the use of the Rainbow Motel as a low-barrier shelter leaves us questioning their short-term political motivations as well as their long-term vision for the Bend Central District.

Katy Brooks, president and CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, sent a similar letter saying the purchase of the property “surprised us.”

“We have also supported housing for our growing homeless population in record fashion. We understand the need to locate homeless services in dense, well-served areas,” she said. “We have previously expressed concerns about the City’s proposal to purchase and use the Rainbow Motel property on Franklin as a permanent shelter. We felt it was a poor choice given its location and prominence within the BCD.

In an email to the Central Oregon Daily News, Brooks said she understands the long-term strategy for investing in the property.

“We believe the city has good options to make it a public good while also acquiring much-needed shelter for our homeless community,” she said. “This is a key property in the neighborhood and could end up serving very important short and long term uses.”

She said the Chamber would like to know more details about the future of the site.

“Our main issue is to provide an exit plan and commitment for the transition to city hall, housing or a community asset.” she says. “We want some durability of this commitment to provide developers (and businesses) with certainty that will last through all board transitions.”

Bend Councilwoman Megan Perkins said the city is in a ‘state of emergency’ with the homelessness issue and that Rainbow’s purchase and transition to a shelter gives the city time to resolve. the long term problem.

“The Rainbow Hotel is an opportunistic public investment that will help us respond to this emergency and then ensure its use is consistent with the goals of the Bend Central District,” she said. “The future use of this property is fully in line with BCD’s vision of making this area a unique, accessible and complete neighborhood for business, recreation and living.”

She said the city has shown its faith in BCD’s vision and buying the motel doesn’t change that.

“We have worked closely with the developers, businesses and residents of BCD as a council and as a city and we look forward to continuing to walk this path together and tackling this important issue in our community while while remaining aligned with our conviction. in the exceptional future of the Bend Central District,” she said.

In the Bend Central District letter, the business owners said it appeared the city had a clear vision for the area, including investments in mixed-use developments and other projects designed to connect the area from approximately 3rd Street between Franklin and Olney west to downtown.

The group said several companies have invested in the region for years and others have made “significant” private investments in the region’s future.

Brooks Resources announced last year that it was in the design phase of a 139-unit, five-story mixed-use building located directly across from the Rainbow Motel.

“You are aware of the erosion of the current livability and viability of the district due to the economic, environmental and security impacts resulting from the current, widespread and growing homeless encampments,” the letter reads. “You are probably also aware that the BCDBA did not support the use of the Rainbow Motel as a homeless shelter when it was originally proposed several months ago because it would not be in line with the district’s vision. as put forward by the City and adopted by the current occupants of the district.

The group listed several questions it wanted answered at its next board meeting on March 16, including how long the motel would be used as a shelter, the exact number of residents, how it will transition from a shelter and how the city plans to keep the homeless. camps to appear in the area.

The letter was signed by BCDBA’s Board of Directors:

  • Kurt Alexander, President, Petrich Properties
  • Brad Irwin, Treasurer, Oregon Spirit Distillers
  • Mary Angelo, Secretary, DVA Advertising & Public Relations
  • Charlie Thiel, Member, Open Space Event Studios
  • Alyssa Heim, Member, Big Story Bookstore
  • Sue Peterson, Member, Brooks, Peterson and Assoc.
  • Chris Starling, Member, Arbor Mortgage Group, 209G Properties

You can read the letters below:

Letter from BCDBA to City of Bend regarding Rainbow Motel

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