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Treasure Hunting Before Building a Hotel

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new hotel is coming to town, a hotel that is expected to be an economic boost for the downtown. But before construction can start, crews must do some treasure hunting of sorts to make sure they are not building on any archaeological treasures.

One of the site’s five owners, Dan Whitaker, says the facility will be an approximate 130-room upscale hotel. The site sits on the corner of First Street and Adams Avenue, right along the riverfront. Whitaker says the $14-18 million project will not only bring more business to the area, but it will also help with the demand for hotel rooms on busy nights in Corvallis – such as Oregon State University graduation night or after Beaver football games.

“We estimate three to four million dollars a year into the community because of the hotel,” said Tom Nelson, the County’s Economic Development Manager. “We estimate over $108,000 a year in tax collections to the county.”

Not only will the county see a revenue increase because of the hotel, but the City and the Visit Corvallis organization will also see an $88,000-118,000 increase in revenue from hotel taxes. Nelson says hotel guests will likely shop in the area and eat in restaurants in close proximity.

“I think the whole group of owners is extremely excited about it,” Whitaker said. “I mean we still have a lot of work to do and it’s still in the preliminary stage.”

On Monday, crews spent the day digging through the dirt with bulldozers.

“It’s in a historic downtown area that’s been there for over 100 years,” Nelson said. “There might be artifacts in the soil that they’ll want to preserve.”

Before construction can begin, the State Historic Preservation Office needs to give the green light that the hotel is not being built on historical artifacts.

“They’re actually looking for old outhouses that were here in the 1800s,” Whitaker said.

The Benton County Historical Society sold the land to the hotel developers, and right next door, on the corner of Second Street and Adams Avenue, it is planning on opening a museum with artifacts from the area.

“It is a historic site and there may be some treasures in the soil,” Nelson said. “So they’re doing some digging right now.”

Some business owners in the area have expressed concern about hotel guests taking up much of the downtown parking. But developers say they are planning on building a 100-spot parking garage. The final floor plans will not be drawn until the archaeological digging is complete, but Whitaker says he would like to see the final plans finished by the end of the week.

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