Hank Sims / @ 3:44 p.m. / Economy, Local Government

The Eureka City Council May Soon Lease, Sell Waterfront Land for RV Park, Mixed-Use Hotel ‘Village’


Mockup of “Halvorsen Village” — a hotel, retail and residential development that would mark the second phase of development on the city-owned property spanning the base of the Samoa Bridge. Image from proposal by Schneider Enterprises.

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There could be a new RV park on the Eureka waterfront soon — and soon after that, if all goes to plan, a new mixed use development with a hotel, shopping and apartments.

At its regular Tuesday night meeting, the Eureka City Council will consider leasing and eventually selling two city-owned parcels straddling the Samoa Bridge to local businesspeople Travis and Stephanie Schneider.

It’s all part of a plan set in motion several months ago to raise money for the city’s Harbor Division, which has been operating at a large deficit for several years running. The proposal on offer would augment the Harbor Division’s operating budget through the lease and eventual sale of the approximately 11 acres of vacant property, and also through the collection of bed tax generated through the RV park and hotel.

Eureka has long looked at moving the property, which lies just east of Halvorsen Park and along Waterfront Drive, into private hands, and over the years various businesses and nonprofits have expressed interest in developing it — hotel developers, Open Door Clinic, the so-called “Ecohostel” and an organization looking to build a public swimming pool. None of them panned out.

The two city-owned parcels up for lease/sale.

This streak will likely be broken soon. In response to a request for proposals the city sent out a couple of months ago, the Schneiders — who also own and operate several other RV parks in the county — have submitted a variation of a plan they first submitted a few years back (when the city opted to give the people backing the community swimming pool a shot, instead). The proposal would involve the Schneiders’ company leasing the property for a period, during which it would develop and operate a 40-space bayfront RV park on the east side of the bridge.

After that, the company would have an option to purchase the entire property outright, and to begin construction of the mixed-use “Halvorsen Village” (see preliminary mock-up, above). Though they warn that the project is still in its initial phases, and will be surely be altered somewhat in the years to come, the Schneiders have high hopes for it. In the proposal, they state:

The village feel development will look to capitalize on the natural waterfront setting by developing the first waterfront hotel in Eureka, as well as providing an abundance of high quality modern retail, commercial and office space. Urban living options will be provided through permanent residential options located on upper floors of the development. Preliminary figures suggest an ultimate buildout of the mixed use would result in more than 200,000 square feet of new commercial, retail, office and residential space.

To repeat: The city is super-motivated to move on this, as the council has already indicated that it will earmark revenues from the project to prop up the beleaguered Harbor Division, which took another big financial hit this year after a fight over dredging the city’s marina didn’t go its way.

Under the proposal, the rowing club that uses an existing building at the site, on the west side of the bridge, would keep its lease. The boat launch and the bathroom would also stay put, and the future Waterfront Trail would keep its easement through the property.

The Eureka City Council meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Eureka City Hall — 531 K Street, Eureka.

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