BY SUSAN G. HAUSER
Brian Obie, owner of the Inn at the 5th, enjoys his new role after a varied business and political career.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
There’s a new hotel in Eugene, but the fact that Brian Obie’s Inn at the 5th is the town’s first new hotel in 30 years is not the real story. What is remarkable is that Obie managed to pull off this downtown development in the first place. His 70-room boutique hotel, which opened in late February, is considered a minor miracle in the hotel industry.
During the construction deep freeze of 2010-11, Obie, a longtime local businessman and former mayor, lined up investors and lenders for his dream project. In that same period, no more than half a dozen new hotel projects in the entire nation got the green light, according to Stephen Ledoux, a hotel industry specialist with Davis Wright Tremaine, the law firm that assisted Obie with the project’s financing.
“You want to talk about an uphill battle,” says Ledoux. “There was nothing easy about this any step of the way. But this happened by force of the will of Brian Obie.”
Obie has been one of the owners of Eugene’s Fifth Street Public Market for 30 years. It was during a stay at Inn at the Market, Seattle’s popular boutique hotel near Pike Place Market, that Obie got the inspiration for his own market inn.