Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

HOOD RIVER, OR-The Columbia River Gorge Commission this week signed off on a policy change that will allow commercial use of historic buildings in the national scenic area, hoping it will provide greater economic incentive to preserve the structures. The new rules open up old farms, granges, schools and other buildings in the gorge to preserve the structures with revenue from “adaptive” commercial enterprises.

The issue was brought to the forerfront by the owners of the Viewpoint Inn, an 80-year-old roadhouse perched above Vista House at Crown Point in Corbett that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The owners applied in January for the right to operate the property as a restaurant, five-room hotel and visitor center, thereby allowing them to raise the necessary funds to make critical repairs before winter.

In mid-October, the Columbia River Gorge Commission discussed approving the Viewpoint Inn for such uses, but instead opted for a sweeping policy change that opens up all historic properties for commercial use. As a result, the owners of the Viewpoint Inn were forced to wait another 30 days while staff drafted the new rules. Commission members on Tuesday voted 10 to 1 to approve the new rules. It will be at least another year or so before the policy change is adopted by the federal government, and that approval could be slowed by opponents of the new rule.

By approving the broader policy change instead of just the Viewpoint Inn, however, the commissioners may be inviting a lawsuit by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge. The group opposes development in the national scenic area in general but was reportedly not opposed to reopening the Viewpoint Inn because it was originally built for commercial use. It views the broader policy change as inconsistent with the National Scenic Act. Michael Lang, the lone “no” vote on the commission, feels the same way, according to public comments.

The bistate gorge commission governs development on most of the land within the 85-mile national scenic area that stretches on both sides of the Columbia from Troutdale to the Deschutes River. A survey by Hood River-based Donovan & Associates reportedly showed 18 buildings in the scenic area that Oregon or Washington have determined are eligible for inclusion on the historic register and 36 more that might be eligible. Historic properties within cities in the scenic area were not included in the survey.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Dig Deeper


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.