By Sophie Peel – Willamette Week
The View Point Inn, nestled in the Columbia River Gorge in Corbett, Ore. may be best known as the setting for a prom scene in the vampire movie Twilight.
It has been embroiled in a nearly 20-year-long controversy, staged between various owners who have wanted to use it for profit and those who want to preserve the gorge’s austere beauty.
He began the plans in 2016 shortly after he bought the building, but after several years of trying to jump through legal hoops that restricted Fruehauf’s plan to expand the structure’s footprint by more than 5,000 feet, his plan ground to a standstill in late 2018. Opponents, including the non-profit Friends of the Columbia Gorge, said Fruehauf’s concept would be in violation of the protections put in place for the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.
Now, it seems the impasse is over. Friends of the Columbia Gorge issued a joint statement Fruehauf and his wife Sheron on June 21 announcing an agreement about future use of the historic landmark—and soon-to-be wellness retreat.
Fruehauf will be allowed to open his retreat with structural and aesthetic modifications that do not expand the square footage of the existing building.
“We are happy to have achieved an agreement that honors both community concerns and our goal of safeguarding the uniquely Oregonian qualities that we all treasure,” Fruehauf said in the statement.
The agreement mandates that a maximum of 15 commercial events can be held yearly at the Inn.
The settlement comes after a half-year silent spell in the controversy after Fruehauf canceled a hearing in late 2018.
When Fruehauf originally announced plans to rehab the inn in 2016, he garnered support from some locals who thought the retreat would benefit the area.
But Multnomah County opposed Fruehauf plant to expand the footprint of the commercial historic landmark. The county wasn’t alone in opposing the naturopath’s retreat. Friends of the Columbia Gorge railed against Fruehauf’s plan, worrying that if one exception was made for commercial use, that soon the Gorge would see other such proposals.
The View Point Inn has long been a battleground.
Back in 2006, Multnomah County granted the building’s then-owner, Geoffrey Thompson, permission to use the space for commercial purposes. In the 10 years leading up to the county’s 2006 decision, Thompson had found ways to use the inn as a special needs school and later, for weddings and events. Critics opposed those uses because the property had been a private home prior to his acquiring it.
When Thompson finally got his way in 2006 and the building was recognized as a historic commercial structure by the Gorge Commission, there were restrictions: The county said the space could not be expanded beyond its footprint.
Fruehauf wanted to expand its footprint by over 5,000 square feet. Fruehauf’s architect had called the extra square footage a necessity to make the project “economical” in 2018 public testimony back in 2018.
The June 21 agreement between the Fruehaufs and Friends of the Columbia Gorge upholds the county law restricting expansion of the footprint.
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