14 April 2016
Contact: James Monteith
541-432-3044 (direct) / 805-5062 (cell)
Wallowa Lake Lodge Acquisition Succeeds
Head of the Lake protected from development
WALLOWA LAKE - Lake Wallowa Lodge LLC today announced it closed on the purchase of the historic Wallowa Lake Lodge and nearly ten acres of adjacent land.
Through the combined efforts of local investors and support throughout the Pacific Northwest, the new company raised $3.1 million to purchase the lodge and cover the expenses of a nine-month campaign.
Lake Wallowa Lodge LLC will maintain the lodge as an affordable, family-friendly inn, eventually adding a modest number of rooms and cabins, establishing a retreat and conference center, and reopening the venerable Cattlemen's Bar. This will allow the company to expand its educational and cultural offerings, lengthen shoulder seasons, and increase profitability. The new owners hope to recapture the traditional essence of the lodge as a cultural icon of the county and centerpiece of the lake community.
The Nez Perce Tribe is a partner in protecting this fragile landscape from being converted into a condominium subdivision. The Tribe will hold a conservation easement that precludes development on most of the open ground, including the Wallowa River wetlands and adjacent uplands. Immense conifers tower over much of the property. This will be the Nez Perce Tribe's first conservation easement, established primarily for purposes of cultural resources and habitat protection, and held in perpetuity.
Investor Jay Graves, who helped launch this private effort after retiring as chairman of the Oregon State Parks Commission, commented "We are so excited that the Wallowa Lake Lodge will continue to operate as one of the 'Great Lodges of the West' and that this sacred ground of the Nez Perce will be protected. We are eager to see the future of the lodge unfold and many more memories made through this inspiring community accomplishment."
In 2015 Marc and Nancy Zwerling and the estate of the late Steve Larson, who managed the lodge for many years, offered the lodge and property at auction. Local investors proffered a preemptive minimum bid and made a $275,000 deposit (10% of the price). The owners graciously allowed the fledgling LLC sufficient time to raise the remaining funds through private investments, keeping the lodge from being lost and the ten acres from being developed.
James Monteith, managing member of the new company, observed "This campaign to secure the lodge and land at the head of the lake is a testament to the vision and commitment of the community. Local residents and friends of the county rallied in an unparalleled effort. I've never seen people stretch together like this to solve such a difficult problem with such a perfect outcome."
The Zwerlings have invested in the new company, as have the Wiggins family, who owned the lodge for 45 years before the current era. "Nancy and I, and Steve's family, could not be more excited," said Zwerling. "For many years we have striven to assure the lodge property and the whole south end of the lake would be preserved in its natural state for the use and enjoyment of future generations. The new community-based ownership shares our hopes and dreams, and is uniquely positioned to achieve that goal. Their efforts have earned our strong support."
Lake Wallowa Lodge LLC wishes to thank its investors, donors, volunteers, lawyers, and so many others who made this endeavor possible, including the Nez Perce Tribe, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Craft3, and the Zwerling family. "This is a rare owner – few people have the heart and vision of Nancy and Marc," said Monteith.
Approximately 650 shares in the LLC remain available, and accredited investors will be accepted through the summer season. As a result of the sale and other changed conditions, a new prospectus will soon be issued.