|Aug 03, 2011 --
Outline of Need
At the turn of the last century, Hot Lake Springs was a premier resort community, with guests arriving on three trains daily and bustling with commerce. After a fire in 1934, all subsequent efforts to restore and repurpose the historic buildings failed, and the entire community sat deserted and deteriorating for 50 years. The resort’s centerpiece—a stately hotel veiled by rising steam from the adjacent hot spring—slowly yielded to the elements, but remained a fixture on eastern Oregon’s rugged landscape long after the surrounding buildings had crumbled.
Over the years, the old hotel continued to generate the curiosity and inspiration of many passers-by. Among these were Lee and David Manuel, who had a vision of restoring the hotel and mineral springs as a destination resort, while also providing ample space for David to create and showcase his world-renown bronze sculptures.
How Rural Development Helped
With financing secured through Old West Credit Union and a Business and Industry (B&I) loan guarantee from USDA Rural Development, Lee and David Manuel were able to secure long term, permanent real estate financing and continue with their epic restoration process in partnership with their grown children.
After eight years of clean-up and restoration, the renovated Hot Lake Destination Resort reopened in November of 2010, offering 22 guest rooms, a mineral hot spring, salon, spa, restaurant, gift shop, event space, history center, and tours of David’s bronze casting studio. Restoration continues on additional guest rooms and facilities within the 65,000 square-foot building as the resort welcomes guests and parties in the remodeled spaces.
Currently, Hot Lake Destination Resort employs 40 people from nearby La Grande, Oregon and surrounding rural areas. Lee, who manages the hotel’s ongoing renovations and day-to-day operations, says they hope to add another ten jobs in the near future. “Right now, we’re booking events every day,” she explained.
What’s more, Lee says that the community support she and her family received from the outset was overwhelming. “It’s a dream to be an economic asset to eastern Oregon and Union County,” she said.
Program: USDA Rural Development B&I Loan Guarantee
Partner: Old West Federal Credit Union
Congressional District: 2
Location: Union, Oregon
Jobs Created: 40 and growing
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