New deal set for old Grove Hotel, but will it stick?

Portland Development Commission accepts developer's proposal to buy Old Town hotel

The Grove Hotel in Old Town in Portland, Aug. 13, 2014. (KOIN 6 News)
The Grove Hotel in Old Town in Portland, Aug. 13, 2014. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A developer has announced he will buy the old Grove Hotel in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood, even if a homeless camp nearby stays.

While the hotel on the corner of Northwest 4th Avenue and Burnside Street doesn’t look like much, developer Bob Naito sees its potential.

“It’s such a great location,” he said. “We want to go full speed ahead.”

The Portland Development Commission recently signed off on Naito’s proposal to buy and fix the old Grove Hotel.

“There is just a lot of creativity and excitement right now about figuring out what to do with the opportunity,” said Naito.

His development group bought the property for only $630,000, which is far less than the $3.7 million that the city has put into it since 2010.

Portland Development Commission (PDC) Executive Director Patrick Quinton responded to questions about the sell and money spent on the property.

“We’re always concerned about what we invest and what we get back out, but we don’t buy real estate for speculative return. We buy real estate to make things happen,” said Quinton.

The Hotel Philip is the original name of the old Grove Hotel in Portland's Old Town neighborhood. (KOIN 6 News, file)
The Hotel Philip is the original name of the old Grove Hotel in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. (KOIN 6 News, file)

In fact, PDC said the building, which was originally the Hotel Phillip, has fallen into such despair that $630,000 is more than what it was appraised for just last month: $595,000.

Naito’s plans for the property include turning it into a hostel, which he said will be more like a boutique hotel with at least 50 rooms, two restaurants on the ground floor and a rooftop patio. The project will cost $7.5 million to $8 million, none of which will come from public money, Naito said.

“I think people have been waiting for a long time to see Old Town reach its full potential,” said Quinton.

Will the deal fall through…again?

Questions about Naito following through were raised after a developer backed out of a similar proposal last year, blaming the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp.

Naito said changes are coming this time.

“We will move ahead regardless of what happens to Right 2 Dream Too, but it’s a lot easier to operate a boutique hotel if your front door doesn’t look out at them,” said Naito.

Naito does have 120 days to back out, but again, he said he foresees his group sticking with it.

“Barring another financial meltdown or something like that, I think it’s going to happen,” said Naito.

He said he hopes to have construction on the hotel completed and open the doors in 18 months.

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