When the founders of the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Co. invested their life savings in a salmon cannery 105 years ago, they never could have imagined that some day a four-story hotel would be built on the same pilings.
But five years ago, developer Robert Jacob had just such an image in mind and work began on the multi-million dollar project earlier this fall.
The Cannery Pier Hotel, a 46-room construction, will be "along the lines of an upscale boutique hotel," said Jacob, an Astoria native, "but mainly a hotel that reflects both the fishing and the industry on that waterfront."
Bergerson Construction is clearing debris and readying the pilings the hotel will stand on in the Columbia River, just west of the Astoria Bridge. The Union Fish Cannery, built in 1897 by fishermen who wanted a better price for their salmon, stopped processing fish in 1980 and was torn down later that decade.
Photo courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society
The completed Cannery Pier Hotel will reflect the Union Fishermen's Cooperative Packing Co., which processed salmon from 1897 to 1980.Jacob explains that Astoria has "a waterfront, basically unscarred by tacky development," and a people-friendly downtown core.
"Most towns don't have that, or turn their back on it," Jacob said.
"The Greshams and Beavertons of the world shot themselves in the foot," he said. "They have no downtown core. If you want to walk from point A to point B, you're going to get run over."
Jacob, who recently secured financing for the project, said he wants the hotel to include displays and artifacts to help tell the story of life in Astoria during salmon fishing's heyday.
The 30-year veteran developer sees a restaurant adjacent to the hotel, connected by a foot bridge.
Jacob said construction of the hotel is scheduled to begin in April, and he hopes the doors will open a year after that.
Astoria Community Development Director Paul Benoit has reviewed plans for the hotel and called the design "exactly right for the waterfront."
Benoit said Jacob, known to many as simply "Jake," is very enthusiastic about the project.
"In any conversation you have with him, his love of the town and its architecture is evident," Benoit said.
An artist's rendering of the Cannery Pier Hotel.Benoit said Jacob's hotel will "set the tone for development in Uniontown."
The city of Astoria is in the process of creating an Urban Renewal District that may include properties on both sides of Marine Drive from Columbia Avenue to Youngs Bay. The district would spur development in the area and generate revenue for the proposed conference center.
The Cannery Pier Hotel is walking distance from the two proposed conference center sites near the West Mooring Basin.
- Benjamin Romano