Pettit proposal: Moonstone, Garden Foundation, seek to retain public access

November 2014 Posted in Business, News
Pettit Pond and the old Pettit house adjacent to the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Photo by Kristine Thomas.

Pettit Pond and the old Pettit house adjacent to the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Photo by Kristine Thomas.

By Kristine Thomas

Christine Diacetis cannot believe it took her this long to visit the Pettit property.

Although she moved to Silverton in 2008, it wasn’t until this summer that she finally ventured to the 80-acre parcel that borders The Oregon Garden.

“I remember coming down the driveway and turning the corner where I got my first look at the lake and the house and it was at that moment I understood why people have such fond memories of the Pettit property and how beautiful it is,” said Diacetis, who is the regional manager for The Oregon Garden.

Believing the property should be a place where community members can visit, Diacetis is working with Moonstone owner Dirk Winter to make it a natural extension of The Oregon Garden.

“For us, our priority is the Pettit property really should be part of The Oregon Garden,” Diacetis said. “It’s too beautiful not to be accessible to the public and it is a treasure to our community.”

Diacetis and Winter will make a presentation to the Silverton City Council on Monday, Nov. 3. She said she was told a vote on their proposal would probably take place at the December council meeting.

Diacetis said the plan is to purchase three acres of the Pettit place to build a 18 room inn with a 40 seat pub and a 66 seat restaurant, with an estimated project cost of $2.6 million.

“The look would be very Old World European with shutters and windows boxes,” Diacetis said.

The Oregon Garden Foundation would lease the remaining of property and would set aside 10 acres for a public park.

The proposal calls for purchasing the three acres for $300,000, Diacetis said, adding an appraisal found one acre valued at $40,000.

Silverton City Manager Bob Willoughby said purchase price, closing costs and environmental clean up costs of the Pettit property totaled “just under $1.2 million.”

Willoughby said the money to purchase the Pettit place came from the city’s sewer reimbursement fund, a combination of sewer system development charges funds and sewer capital project money.

“(The Pettit property) was purchased to become part of the Garden which is still the highest and best use of this property,” Willoughby said.  “Moonstone’s proposal to buy less than three of the 80 acres is the first proposal since I’ve been manager that provides the funds to implement this plan, give the city almost 10 acres for a new Pettit Park, and keep almost all of this unique property in city ownership. It’s a ‘win/win/win for the city, Moonstone and the Oregon Garden.”

Silverton Community Development Director Jason Gottgetreu said the 80-acre Pettit parcel “has a number of constraints for development.” The lake is about 16 acres.

The majority of the site consists of steep hillsides and the lake, he said, adding, of the 80 acres around 9 acres have slopes less than 12 percent, anything over 12 percent is subject to the city’s hillside overlay standards.

“The site would be zoned R-1, Single Family Residential,” Gottgetreu said. “Currently one single family home exists on the site. There are a number of challenges for further development, including access, utilities and slope.”

Partnering with The Oregon Garden Foundation in raising funds to develop walking trails and paths would allow community members access to the Pettit property,  Diacetis said. If it were sold as single family residential, it would close the public access.

Diacetis said the reason Moonstone wants to build on the Pettit property is because there is a demand for hotel rooms. For the last six months, she said the Oregon Garden Resort has run at 80 percent occupancy, adding rooms are already sold out for the Brewfest in June.

“If we had an additional 18 rooms, we could accommodate much larger conferences,” she said.

“People are choosing Silverton to have their conferences because it is a destination area.”

From listening to people talk as well as reading comments on social media sites, Diacetis said there is some misinformation she would like to clarify.

Silverton City Council
Silverton Community Center
421 S Water St.
7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3
Oregon Garden Regional Manager
Christine Diacetis and Moonstone
owner Dirk Winter will make a
presentation on the Oregon Garden Resort
proposal for the Pettit property.

The Oregon Garden is a nonprofit, overseen by the Oregon Garden Foundation and managed by Moonstone Garden Management. Moonstone Hotel Properties does not own The Oregon Garden.

She also has read comments that the Oregon Garden Resort has missed making payments to the city of Silverton for the property it purchased to build the resort.

“We have not missed a payment. We asked for an extension on a payment,” she said. “Dirk Winter pays about $200,000 a year for the last five years to keep The Oregon Garden up and running. The Oregon Garden and The Oregon Garden Resort are two different businesses. We pay $150,000 a year for the resort property or about $350,000 a year for the two properties.”

Diacetis has heard arguments the land should be sold to a private party so the city could recoup its initial investment.

“If Moonstone purchased the property, the city would have $300,000 right at the time of the purchase,” Diacetis said.

Add to that, $40,000 a year in property tax and once the site was up and running, and an additional ongoing 10 percent transient occupancy tax, she said.

Since the Oregon Resort opened in October of 2008 through this September, Diacetis said more than $878,000 has been generated in transient occupancy tax. She estimates $50,000 a year in TOT from the new site.

“The Oregon Garden Resort is continuing to grow and attract more visitors,” she said. “We are looking at building a higher-end lodging on the site and the city gets to keep the revenue stream for years to come.”

Proponents for selling to a private owner, note the city would be able to pay back the sewer fund faster than if Moonstone purchases part of the property.

Diacetis said it is important to look at the long term versus short-term goals. She  invites those with questions to take time to review the proposal.

“The Pettit property needs to be something everyone has access to,” she said. “It’s an incredible place – it’s inspiring, it’s magical and it’s an experience the people of this community should have.”


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