Contractors and tourists in The Dalles are taking any bed they can find as home owners see an opportunity to capture revenue through renting rooms.
In the last 5 months, the city has received seven requests—six for bed and breakfast hospitality businesses and one for a vacation rental. And that is just adding to the stock. A quick search on AirBnB.com lists 54 rentals for The Dalles.
With single night rents ranging from $49 to more than $400 per night, it appears to be a burgeoning cottage industry.
Locals are taking the overflow from hotels.
“We’re selling out pretty much every night until September,” said Sara Hearn, manager of the 80-room Fairfield Inn & Suites on West Seventh St. “We have guests staying for two weeks up to six months. Clientele is working for or with Google, Siemens, and the Cherry Growers, to name a few."
Investors are buying homes in The Dalles with the intent of renting them out on a short-term basis.
“We’re seeing some of that for sure,” said Realtor Charlie Foote with Windermere Glenn Taylor Real Estate.
Foote and a partner are themselves working on an older home renovation near the downtown area with the intent of renting it.
“But short-term rentals are not on the level of Hood River before they had to start regulating it,” he said.
At the other end of the spectrum, a growing tourism market is calling for more lodging.
Have we become a vacation destination?
“Visitors come here and say it’s so beautiful,” said Bev Eagy, who runs the Victor Trevitt Guest House at 214 W. Fourth St. with her husband Alan. “It’s finally paying for itself.” They bought the Victorian home from Northern Wasco County Parks and Recreation for $7 and painstakingly restored it. The home still has buckshot in the siding, from an errant discharge some years ago when it sat at City Park.
A quick check of her guest book reveals travelers from around the world. Artists, tourists, fashionistas and developers are all in the mix. Beth Kerschen, a photographic artist who reinvents cityscapes, recently spent several days, Eagy said.
“You get to meet some really interesting people,” she added, noting that more than 70 groups have come through the home in the last year. “They like the character of this small village and the friendly and down-to-earth people.”
And the neighborhood, within walking distance of downtown restaurants, pubs, wineries and shops, has become a hot spot for transitioning homes into bed and breakfasts. Recent applications include homes on Garrison and Pentland that sit on the bluff overlooking downtown.
Travelers fall in love with the history of The Dalles and its buildings. It’s really unique, Eagy said.
Mary Bosch of Marketek, Inc., was hired recently to do a study of the historic Gitchell building on First Street. “Very few places in the state, almost none, have the concentration of historic buildings” that The Dalles does, she said.
Locals have known this for years, but others are starting to catch on.
Tourism is growing. Wasco County had an average spending growth of $5 million per year from 2014-17, accounting for some $122.3 million, according to the Oregon Tourism Commission. That’s a $20 million increase over four years.
Around the Corner from Eagy, Alexandra Dezurick took notice of The Dalles' attributes and bought the iconic Stadleman home for $400,000.
The city approved it for a bed and breakfast hospitality business in December.
Dezurick, who remodeled a former Church at Ninth and State streets in Hood River and landed a cover story in Oregon Home Magazine, remembered thinking to herself, ‘Yep, this is the one,’ after touring the house at 412 W. Fourth St.
She said she was endeared with the historic nature of The Dalles and the unique English Cottage with rolled roof eaves.
“I think it’s starting,” Dezurick said of The Dalles becoming a destination. “There is no room in Hood River. This is the next stop.”
“It’s a very friendly community,” she noted, pointing to another merit of The Dalles. “Last November, I tripped on a curb here and fell, and three people stopped to see if I needed help or an ambulance.”