By Erin Stephenson
Our small but mighty Atticus Hotel team has been in rapid fire mode in a mad dash to meet our milestone to break ground on the project in May. As a small independently owned and operated hotel, the Atticus is a David in world of Goliaths. It turns out that there aren’t a lot of local developers or business people taking on these types of projects because, quite frankly, it’s a pretty big hill to climb. The barriers to entry are huge, the financing is challenging maze to navigate, and tying down the right location (particularly in a historic downtown core) is a task fit for Sisyphus.
Our core development team is made up of four local McMinnvillian’s (Yep, that’s really what we’re called) who are passionate about our community and sharing our excitement about McMinnville and Oregon Wine Country through the Atticus Hotel. We all come to the project with deep ties to our community and experience managing a wide variety of organizations and businesses, but the Atticus Hotel is the first commercial construction project our team has taken on together. Over the last two years we’ve navigated an incredible number of challenges in our commitment to make this project happen, but every time a road block has been thrown up for us we’ve dug deep, gotten creative and found a way over, under or around the obstacle (thanks in large part to a dedicated team of advisors who are equally committed to seeing this project happen). After successfully securing funding through our local branch of Citizen’s Bank and the Small Business Administration in January, we’ve been officially off to the races…
Finishing the architectural plans for the Atticus Hotel has been a huge push in the last month. Building permits were submitted in late January, and our fearless architect Nathan Cooprider has been forgoing sleep for the last month (Nathan may correct me to say ‘year’) to get our final set of plans ready to hand over to R&H Construction for bids. Working alongside Nathan is our lead interior designer Christina Tello, who has also been burning the candle at both ends getting final specs ready for bid on everything from trim to tile. With that task recently complete and behind us, our emphasis is shifting to on-boarding the rest of our interior design team, and cementing our plan to create dazzling interiors at the Atticus Hotel utilizing local artisans and craftspeople wherever possible. In the mean time we continue to bring greater focus to various site development issues (particularly underground utilities) and to hammer out final details on construction contracts and insurance policies for the build.
Harkening back to the ‘David in a world of Goliath’s’ comment, we have also spent significant time identifying and reaching out to local funding sources to help with some gaps in our financing created by SBA rules. The team at the McMinnville Downtown Association worked with us on our application for a $100,000 grant from Oregon Main Street focused on economic development and downtown revitalization. We are hopeful that the OMS team will be as excited as we are about the Atticus Hotel and what it means for downtown McMinnville. In addition to that grant, we have spent time talking with our Yamhill County Commissioners about applying for a Strategic Investment Fund grant later this spring, as well as working with the McMinnville Urban Renewal Advisory Committee to put together the first official grant request for McMinnville’s new Urban Renewal District. We hope that both the city and the county are excited to partner with the Atticus Hotel to help us bring 50 new jobs to our community, as well as significant tax revenue and consumer spending. (More info on project impacts can be found here.) It takes a lot of partners to make a project like the Atticus Hotel happen.
On the marketing front we have been focused on getting our social media accounts up and running, so that people can stay connected to the Atticus Hotel through our start-up process. If you’re not doing so already please follow along on Facebook or Instagram to stay current on what’s happening at the Atticus as we move ever closer to our ground breaking in May. In the meantime we’re also working away behind the scenes on transitioning our Atticus Hotel website from project information to our full blown site, ready to start taking bookings in October.
In short, our team is trying to run this marathon at a dead sprint. We’ve got s lot of miles ahead of us, but hopefully not too many of them are uphill.