The Douglas County Board of Commissioners agreed Wednesday to spend $20,000 for a study of a proposed boutique hotel in downtown Roseburg.
The county’s decision mirrored the Roseburg City Council, which approved the same amount toward the study last week.
Commissioner Gary Leif said community leaders have been working for 20 years to come up with a solution for the vacant Safeway and Rite-Aid properties downtown, where the hotel would be sited. Earlier suggestions for the property included a grocery store or a town plaza. It has also been mentioned as a potential location for part of a medical education college campus downtown.
Proponents hope the boutique hotel would bring high-end tourists to town.
“The idea is to bring a new type of visitor into Roseburg that would enhance the wineries. With all of the problems we’ve had trying to develop this property, this has some really good outlooks for it,” Leif said.
He also said the property owners have agreed to improve the rest of the property if a hotel is sited there.
Commissioner Chris Boice said the county money going toward the project comes from Oregon Lottery funds that must be used for economic development projects.
“This is not money that we can take and spend on really anything else. We can’t fund the library with it. We can’t put it into the parks department,” he said.
The grant approval was recommended by the Douglas County Industrial Development Board.
The money the city of Roseburg will contribute toward the study comes from hotel taxes. Roseburg city staff and The Partnership for Economic Development have spent two years and about $100,000 working with a consulting firm on how to attract high-end tourists to Roseburg. They hope the boutique hotel would accomplish that.
Opponents of the project have said the location is not ideal because of problems with transients and drug use downtown. The move is also being questioned by the owners of the Windmill Inn, who broke ground this month on a new Hampton Inn on Mulholland Drive.