Future Plans for MRMR
The following is a work in progress (watch for updates)
As of 11/25/2020, we are still unsure of what we can and should rebuild.
There are many challenges with rebuilding in Blue River:
- Zoning and Land Use Restrictions
- Distance from Eugene
- Current State the Town
- Size and Economic Profile of the Community
These all are important in determining what kind of businesses can survive or thrive in Blue River.
The McKenzie is a tourism district and Blue River going through our town is gorgeous.
Blue River has great potential for new life.
Taking pride in our community. We remodeled the 2 cabins that remained after fire and now they are providing long term rental housing for our community. Both getting new outside paint this summer.
Our History with McKenzie River Mountain Resort
While we greatly enjoying bringing life back to the old ranger station and making it beautiful, it was not very profitable. Most of the money we made, went right back into improving the property, each and every year.
The closures forced on us by Snowmageddon (do you remember the 3 weeks of no power March of 2019?) and the following Covid shutdowns? Combined, they nearly put us out of business for good.
Lack of capacity has always been an issue. We just weren’t big enough to justify the costs of operating – 10-20 more hotel rooms would have made a huge difference in our ability to generate profits to pay the owner for time worked and provide more jobs for our community.
Working an average of 60-80 hours a week and taking on side projects each year to make ends meet has been tough physically and mentally.
To rebuild we need to seriously think about what would work well for our location and our community
We have 8 acres of land between Blue River Dr and the McKenzie Highway next to Blue River.
In addition to the challenges of running a viable business in the we are also dealing with:
- Insurance only covered 1/2 the cost to rebuild.
- high building costs – costs to build have almost doubled in the last few years
- high interest rates – interest rates have also risen significantly making it harder to justify borrowing to build for a project. (The project needs to be profitable enough to pay the higher costs.)
Land Use Rules Allow Us to:
- Rebuild Exactly what we Had – this time with a bigger mortgage and a higher mortgage payment, with the same amount of capacity/rooms as before.
- Rebuild and Try to Rebuild Larger – with costs to build and finance, I’m not sure this would make financial sense
- Build some houses – replace 3 that burned and possibly add 2 or 3 more.
- Sell it to someone to build an RV Park.
There are a lot of potential of what could be build on the property that would be good for Blue River as a community, but Oregon’s rural land use rules won’t allow them to be built. Restrictive Land Use rules are one of the main challenges to rebuilding Blue River back. It is something we as a community should work together to address.
We did reach out to both the medical clinic and the Library to see if they wanted to replace their building on this site. They both preferred to rebuild at their current locations.
Having a business that brings revenue from outside the community, creates jobs and has a low impact on the environment and neighbors is good for Blue River. For the town to avoid falling back into poverty, as a community we need to attract businesses that will survive here and contribute to the community’s health and vibrancy.
Where do We Go from Here?
I’m still not sure -a few main factors that will have an impact on our future and what options are available.
Community Sewer – We are waiting for the community sewer to be installed as that might provide a couple more viable options for our location.
Closure of River St – This mostly single lane road between us and the public river front property has been a safety issue for sometime. We have asked that it be closed for a few reasons. Safety and cost of maintenance is a key issue (the county and state will not maintain the road). More than once have children almost been run over by speeding cars and even more scares of pets getting hit. Closing the street solves this issue, as we cannot afford to fix the street and bring it up to standards ourselves.
It also allows us the potential for siting homes with river views. While we had great repeat clients and 4.5 star ratings with guests, most people who want to vacation upon the McKenzie want to see water. This was a huge challenge for us that affected occupancy rates and the amount we could charge – making it harder to turn a profit
Stress and Risk – Frankly the stress of the fire after burning the candle at both ends for so many years have taken their toll.
Rebuilding seems overwhelming – those of you who have had to rebuild after the fire know what I am talking about. Its compounded a few times over as we are required to do a Special Use Permit first, a year long process before we can even apply for building permits. This requires full engineered building plans for not just a house, but the entire facility. This process is between $50k-100k for which, at the end, we may be forced to go back and make expensive changes – or scrap the project altogether (losing the $50-100k fee). This is a public process and while I have good relationships with most of my neighbors, there always seems to be someone in the community that wants to fight about something.
At the end of the day, this is a small business that makes a marginal profit. It is full of risks that I’m not sure are prudent to take as I get close to retirement age.
Most Likely Option based on what we Know Now
Rebuilding houses along the property edge with some views of the water make the best financial sense.
They would add nice housing to the community. This would preserve property values for our neighbors.
Here’s an idea of something that might work. (We have not hired anyone to start designing anything yet, yet something like this might be cool.)
That would leave the remaining acreage for other options. Not sure what would make the best sense there.
We would love to hear your suggestions!