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Sunshine preps for growth: Martins want to purchase site soon

SUNSHINE MILL is proposing to develop the silos at its historic site as a hotel, which would require exterior insulation the business owners hope to conceal with screens that look like wine bottles. Below, the Quaker Square Hilton in Akron, Ohio, offers a precedent for converting silos to hotel rooms.

SUNSHINE MILL is proposing to develop the silos at its historic site as a hotel, which would require exterior insulation the business owners hope to conceal with screens that look like wine bottles. Below, the Quaker Square Hilton in Akron, Ohio, offers a precedent for converting silos to hotel rooms. Sunshine Mill

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the Quaker Square Hilton in Akron, Ohio, offers a precedent for converting silos to hotel rooms.

— The 12 silos at the historic Sunshine Mill in The Dalles could be converted into seven floors of hotel rooms within the next five years, with a rooftop room where grapes will be crushed to make wine.

An unusual aspect of the Martin family’s design plans is to have a clear tube running down the center of the silos that carries grape juice to barrels in the cellar where it can ferment. That will be the location of a tasting room and a restaurant where clients can enjoy a good meal complimented by fine wine.

“We want people to be drawn here by the uniqueness of this place,” said Natasha Martin, chief of business development for Sunshine Mill Winery. “We’ve always been dreamers, so I think it’s always been in the backs of our minds that this was a possibility.”

She said the silos will have to be insulated for occupancy by the addition of six to 12 inches of concrete, which will be difficult to clean and not aesthetically pleasing. For that reason, James Reding, the Seattle architect hired to draft design plans for the mill, has suggested placement of a mesh screen over the former grain storage containers.

The silos are each 125 feet high and the screen is shown in a conceptual drawing as having the faint outlines of wine bottles to reflect the business.

Martin said the screens could eventually be removed to accommodate balconies outside the 42 rooms, which will probably have round beds and bathtubs to fit the curvature of the buildings.

She said, at this time, there are no plans for the upper floors of the actual mill building due to parking limitations.

Martin gave a presentation on potential plans for 901 E. Second St. at the Feb. 26 meeting of the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. Natasha represented her father, James, founder of the winery, who was out of town on business.

She said his idea for the structure was unusual but not untried; the 36 silos of the former Quaker Oats Mill in Akron Ohio had been converted into 196 completely round rooms for a hotel.

In order to secure financing for repurposing the Sunshine Mill, where flour was once produced, Discover Development, a limited liability corporation represented by Martin, is seeking to purchase the 1.46 acres of property. The price would be $305,123.69, the price paid by the urban renewal agency for the real property and the cost of streetscape improvements at the east end of town.

The roundabout at Brewery Grade, paid for largely with federal stimulus dollars, was built to better accommodate traffic in the area that would occur as a result of the mill’s redevelopment.

The closing date for the Sunshine Mill property sale is scheduled to occur by no later than May 15, 2015, with repayment of the $600,000 loan granted by urban renewal to Discover for property improvements to occur before Oct. 14, 2014.

If the corporation is unable to obtain funding to purchase the property by April 13, 2014, Discover and urban renewal will likely enter into an extension of the current lease until May 15, 2015, the scheduled closing date for the deal.

Since signing a lease in 2009, Discover has made numerous improvements on the property, including conversion of the warehouse into a bottling plant. Also listed on the lease is TGE, LLC, also known as Quenett, the name of the business’ signature wine.

Because of the proactive changes made to the former flour mill, the advisory committee agreed to recommend that the urban renewal agency board of directors, comprised of city councilors, move forward with the land sale contract. That proposal will be reviewed March 11 at the meeting that takes place after the city council convenes at 5:30 p.m. in the municipal chambers at 313 Court Street.

Natasha said the first phase of work planned for the mill is to construct a lab and production facility next to the existing warehouse, a project that is expected to be completed within two years.

Next on the list is to build a dry goods storage facility and marketing offices on the property Discover hopes to acquire that once housed the Tum-A-Lum Lumber Company. Martin said that phase of work should be done within three years.

Then the eyes of the Martin family will turn toward creating a hotel that will become a destination spot for tourists. By the time that work is done, the new vineyard that will be planted this spring on 450 acres near Emerson Loop on Fifteenmile Road will be in full production.

Martin said the hospitality end of the business is expected to employ 50-70 people and the vineyard at least 17 workers. There are currently 63 employees on the job bottling Copa Di Vino, wine by the glass, and running the tasting room.

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