At the start of the New Year, Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services (WNHS) ushered in a deal that will mean big changes for the historic Julian Hotel, which has been used for low-income housing in downtown Corvallis since the mid-1980s. The building has 35 dwelling units, but is in deep need of serious restoration and renovation. WNHS acquired the property from Northwest Housing Alternatives, and has a large-scale rehabilitation project in the works that will improve the quality of life for inhabitants and maintain the historic building for generations to come. The $8.2 million deal includes a variety of funding sources, with $3.7 million dedicated towards renovation of the property.
Built in 1893, the Julian Hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Jim Moorefield, executive director of WNHS, insists that the renovations are being done with that historic listing in mind.
“Our plans don’t impact the property’s historic listing – that will stay in place,” he said. “However, its listing does impact our approach to the rehab and the regulatory approvals we’ll need. We know the Julian is an historic jewel and we’re contracting with an architecture firm, Carleton-Hart, with experience in historic rehabs.”
The building, however, is in need of some serious repair and recovery. The remodeling plans range from a new roof to updating the ground floor to include commercial space and a community room, as well as a property manager’s office and a resident services office. They also plan to update each apartment with new appliances, cabinets, fixtures, and flooring.
One large concern is how this remodel will affect current residents of the Julian. Moorefield states that all residents will be rehoused and will be welcome to return once remodeling is complete. Plans for the rehoming of residents were included in the initial funding for this project, and WNHS intends on helping people find secure housing in the increasingly tough rental market that is Corvallis, whether that be in motel rooms, in other downtown apartments, or by providing compensation to residents who stay with family members while they are displaced. Moorefield is very clear on this point.
“Resident relocation is temporary; everyone will be able to move back in if they want to, and the rent assistance they receive now will continue after they move back in,” he said. “No one will lose their home. WNHS will pay for the costs associated with temporary relocation [such as moving costs].”
Additionally, the Julian will still have access to the same Resident Services Program that WHNS provides to all of their properties. The inclusion of a new office being added to the first floor will allow WHNS staff, as well as staff from other organizations to, collaborate in-house to assist the residents of the building.
The Julian is an important part of the Corvallis community for the essential housing it provides to citizens. However, it does have a lurid history of drug and crime activity, which prior property management was not able to manage in a satisfactory way. WNHS will be working to improve some security features in the facility, and Moorefield believes that “The single most important step any property owner can take to prevent crime is to hire a quality, experienced property management company and to make sure the property has an on-site property manager.” Hopefully these efforts will have an impact on the culture of the Julian, and can help it to become a healthy living environment again. Corvallis stands to gain a great deal from having a stable and well-managed low-income housing facility in its downtown.
by Candy Smith