Building a bike & bed

Dallas business owner wants to bring bicyclists to town

Marshall Guthrie, left, talks with Gabriel Leon and Marlene Cox about the hostel.

Marshall Guthrie, left, talks with Gabriel Leon and Marlene Cox about the hostel.

DALLAS — Marlene Cox, the owner of Latitude One in Dallas, will apply for a Main Street Revitalization grant to transform the second story of the restaurant building into a hostel catering to bicyclists.

The upstairs of the building, located at 904 Main St., is vacant. If successful, the project would build a hostel with men’s and women’s bunk rooms, bathroom and shower facilities, a kitchen, and two private rooms. Guests would have a place to secure their bikes next to their beds.

Cox also wants to purchase the vacant former gas station at the corner of Main and Washington streets to create a bike park with a wash and repair station, restrooms and a pocket park. The park would be one block from the hostel.

Cox said the Dallas Downtown Association will help write the grant, which is due in March. The grant is offered through the Oregon Parks & Recreation State Historic Preservation Office.

“Our Downtown Dallas Association is really trying to push bike friendly,” Cox said. “We want to be able to support bikes and cyclists.”

She said there aren’t amenities in Dallas specifically for bicyclists, which means the town is potentially missing out on a tourism niche. Cox said the idea began to take form when Polk County was selected to participate in Travel Oregon’s Rural Tourism Studio.

“Cycling, that was the big main pitch. I realized that Dallas has much to offer for cyclists to come,” Cox said. “I just think some lodging is what we definitely need to have. If this ... works well, it’s going to encourage other owners with the old buildings with the second level empty just like this.”

Marshall Guthrie, a bicycle enthusiast from Monmouth, said there are a lot of towns in Oregon, including Dallas, that he would rarely visit, if at all, except for on two wheels.

“I go to the farmers market, coffee shops, I meet my bike club here. If it wasn’t for my bike, I would spend zero dollars anywhere but the courthouse in Dallas,” Guthrie said. “I could say the same thing about Jefferson. I could say the same thing about Perrydale. I could name a lot of towns in Oregon that have gotten my money that wouldn’t get it if there wasn’t a reason to ride my bike there.”

He said the hostel and the bike park would not only invite bicycle tourists, but cater to what he believes is a growing movement of people moving away from cars as their primary mode of transportation.

“I think we are entering an era where individual car use is going to taper off. I’m not going to say a decline, but per capita, you will see a decline,” Guthrie said. “As the population increases, cars will increase, but I think we are starting to see a resurgence of a community that is focused on people getting around some way other than in a car.”

Gabriel Leon, the DDA manager, said he’s invested in the project as someone who has commuted by bike, but it’s also in line with the organization’s goals.

“It has a personal place in my heart. I’m doing what I can so the town can have a bike-centered space,” Leon said. “The downtown association in general is always really excited about historic preservation and making sure that the bones of our towns and cities carry on into the future.”

Cox added that downtowns must evolve to say vital.

“Let’s make some reasons to come over to Dallas,” she said. “The old days of retail is gone. If we are going to do something, it’s going to have to be what people’s lifestyles now reflect and what they want.”

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