A Mendocino County Indian tribe has taken over the historic Hopland Inn and plans to reopen its oft-shuttered restaurant and bar.
The Pinoleville Pomo Nation is leasing the landmark Victorian-era hotel with an option to buy it for just under $1.5 million, said Michael Canales, a consultant for the tribe.
?It?s a real estate investment for the tribe,? he said. ?It was a very good deal.?
The hotel, built in 1890, has traded hands frequently in recent years.
It was last purchased in 2006 by a Cambria-based investment group, which spruced up the three-story hotel and reopened its bar and restaurant after the previous investors gave up.
But the restaurant and bar were again closed last summer. Owner Tim Gill said it was too difficult to run a restaurant from the San Luis Obispo area.
Hopland residents said they are pleased the tribe plans to reopen the restaurant but they are not altogether optimistic it will succeed, based on the hotel?s repeated closures.
?It?s a great idea. I just hope they won?t get discouraged and shut it down again,? said Tom Kong, owner of the Hopland Superette.
Buying the hotel is part of the 240-member tribe?s ongoing effort to gain economic self-reliance, Canales said.
Tribes around the country have made similar investments, Canales noted. They include the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, which bought the historic U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego in 2006. Tribes also have formed joint ventures to build hotels, such as the Four Fires in Washington, D.C.
The Pinoleville tribe?s lease/purchase is being funded by money the state collects from casino-owning tribes and distributes to non-gaming tribes, Canales said.
The Pinoleville tribe plans to build its own casino just north of Ukiah on rancheria land that abuts the west side of Highway 101. But that project is well into the future, Canales said.
?Financing is a big issue these days,? he said.
The tribe also has been buying back land that it owned until the 1960s, when the tribe?s legal standing was terminated. The tribe was reestablished in the 1980s.
In 2004, the tribe bought 115 acres southwest of the rancheria. Most of that land ? including a portion located behind Ukiah High School ? will be preserved as open land, Canales said. Indian housing is planned for a 17-acre parcel near Lovers Lane, he said.
Tribal housing also may be built on a different parcel of land located on the east side of Highway 101 just north of Ukiah on North State Street, Canales said. The old Ken Fowler auto dealership site was once part of the Pinoleville Rancheria, he noted. The tribe is paying an estimated $25,000 a month for a lease with the option to buy the 9-acre property for $3.5 million from its Rohnert Park owner, Kandy Investments, Canales said.
Kandy Investments? owners did not return phone calls seeking comment. Tribal Chairwoman Leona Williams also did not return phone calls.