Raising Timbers- A downtown Eugene motel undergoes a major renovation

Eugene Magazine

Raising Timbers- A downtown Eugene motel undergoes a major renovation

By Ed Russo
Photos by Brian Davies

The renovation of The Timbers Motel office in downtown Eugene is the most noticeable change at the 59-year-old lodging establishment, though part of a larger effort that those involved describe as the motel’s reinvention project.

The motel — recognizable by its stone facades and planters filled in the summer with blooming fuschias and begonias — has a new name — Timbers Inn. And the next generation of family ownership — Daniel Kim and Joseph Bailey — are taking over the business.

In fact, the $600,000 renovation was the brothers’ idea. They are modernizing the motel at East 10th Avenue and Pearl Street, and adding amenities to make it more competitive with Eugene and Springfield’s growing number of newer hotels and motels.

They say it is the single-most expensive renovation in the Timbers’ history.

“We are trying to bring it up-to-date while, at the same time, keeping the (midcentury modern) character,” Bailey said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The brothers are counting on the building renovation and amenities to bring more customers to the hotel, which currently has an occupancy rate of between 50 percent to 60 percent. They hope to boost average room occupancy to 75 percent to 80 percent.
“We want to become a destination motel,” Kim said.

The renovation and amenities also will allow the owners to raise room rents, with the goal of boosting profits.

Dates to 1958
The 42-room Timbers Motel, across the street from the Greyhound bus station, was built in 1958.

It was acquired in 1994 by Joseph and Chong Bailey, who owned a neighborhood market
in southeast Portland. After moving to Eugene, with their sons, then 16 and nine, the
couple worked long hours running the hotel. Their bedroom was in a room in the office, while the boys slept in a motel room every night. Growing up, the brothers worked in the
motel.

“We’d come home from school and help with the laundry,” Bailey said. “We could not
spend time with friends until it was done.” Kim left home first, moving to Austin, Texas,
where he later graduated from the University of Texas.

His younger brother eventually joined him in Austin, where he completed
his senior year of high school.

Kim returned to Eugene for a short time to help his mother, who had acquired the Sushi Station on East Fifth Avenue, near Steelhead Brewery. After owning the business for less than two years, she sold it in about 2006.

Kim returned to Austin, got married and bought a Days Inn motel near the University of
Texas. His brother, meanwhile, had majored in economics at the University of Texas. His minor was Japanese, which he learned to speak fluently, and he spent a year studying and working in Japan.

Not long ago, the brothers didn’t think they would return to Eugene and operate the motel, let alone oversee its renovation.

But their parents developed health problems, so they returned home, at different times. In 2011, Joseph moved back to Eugene to help run the business because their mother was ailing.

In 2015, Daniel and his wife and three children moved to Eugene after their father had a
stroke. “We really had to step in,” Kim, 39, said. Taking stock of the business, the brothers decided to upgrade the building that houses the motel’s office. The motel’s rooms are remodeled every so often to keep them looking fresh for guests. However, the office, had never received a major upgrade.

“At the time the hotel was built, in 1958, there was no such thing as continental breakfast or free wi-fi,” Bailey, 32, said. “It was very simple. You just had a room.”

The brothers hired architect Nir Pearlson, who, with lead designer, Roger Ota, developed
plans for the building’s makeover.

The building “contained a cluster of disconnected, cramped, and underutilized spaces,” Pearlson said. “The owners recognized the need to reorganize the spaces, and while desiring a major facelift, they sought to preserve the iconic spirit of the place.”

The work by general contractor Paul Allen of Allen Co. and others expanded the 1,240-square-foot building by 300 square feet and added an outdoor patio.

Work to be done soon

Construction, which required a gutting of the office building, began last November. The front desk has been temporarily moved to a motel room.

Previously, the building contained a small front desk and no place for guests to relax, eat
or drink.

The renovation is expected to be finished later this month or by early June. After the remodeling is complete, guests will use the dramatically changed building to check in, as well as to eat breakfast, relax and partake of complimentary early evening craft beer, wine or kombucha.

The building’s interior has been renovated with extensive wood treatments, in recognition of the motel’s name and region’s timber industry. The floor is covcovered in dark stained oak and large wood framed windows and doors let in natural light. In the dining area, light colored cabinets and shelves made of Douglas fir are paired with black quartz
counter tops.

Rough-hewn reclaimed wood is attached to a wall in the dining area and under the counter of the check-in desk. An 11-foot tall fireplace with a walnut mantle will provide guests a place to gather around.

The building’s original attractive tongue and groove hemlock ceiling has been enhanced through a light sanding and an application of clear coat.

The renovation added a warming kitchen that will allow the motel to offer something that has been customary for years in other hotels — complimentary breakfast.

The morning meal will include eggs, bacon waffles and other breakfast dishes, as well as rice and miso soup, the brothers said. Five tables made of reclaimed wood by Urban Lumber Company of Springfield will provide dining and drinking places for about 20 guests.

Five tables made of reclaimed wood by Urban Lumber Company of Springfield will provide dining and drinking places for about 20 guests.

The project also included a pair of handicapped accessible bathrooms and a small back office.

Guests can gather outside on the patio under the building’s overhanging roof. The patio is separated from the parking lot with 2½-feet tall concrete flower planters with backrests and wooden bench that will give guests a place to sit. Two exterior walls have been clad in dark gray stained cedar.

The 10th Avenue side of the building’s distinctive stone facade, made from basalt from Eastern Oregon, will be illuminated by LED lights.

Also, the motel is getting a new pole-mounted sign above the office that will display the new name, Timbers Inn, in orange-gold lettering above three green trees
against a brown backdrop.

Mike Hopper, a Eugene graphic artist, created the design for the sign, which will serve as the motel’s new logo.

“He came up with a design that is totally retro, that captures the whole spirit of the place,” Pearlson said. “The sign will cinch everything together and create a brand.”

He said he was pleased to work on the project.

“It is a delight to experience how the final results celebrate the 1950s without becoming a cliché, Pearlson said.

The renovated building has a sense of “laidback elegance,” he said. Motel guests will be offered complimentary beer and wine in the lobby during the evenings, with local craft beer and wines.

Daily room rates at Timbers Inn during the peak summer travel season have been about $100 a night, but the renovation and the amenities will likely push that to about $129 or
more.

“This will help us better compete with the bigger hotels,” Kim said.