A Future As Bright As its Iconic Sunburst Logo

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med_Sunriver-Entry_1Almost everywhere you look, Sunriver is in the midst of a metamorphosis as it races to remain the vibrant vacation destination of Central Oregon amid a growing number of competitors.
From the new $10 million entry off Highway 97 to the massive rock and waterfall roundabout that serves as the unincorporated community’s new front door to Caldera Springs, the first major resort community in twelve years, to the ambitious plans for a $250 million makeover of its aging mall, it’s future is as bright as the icon sunburst that has been its identification mark for five decades.
Founded in 1968 by John Gray of Omark Industries, Sunriver is renowned for its year-round sunshine, close proximity to Mt. Bachelor, world-class golf and five-star amenities that routinely lure 10,000 to 12,000 visitors to the 3,300-acre playground each summer.
And with resorts sprouting at Thornburgh, Pronghorn, Brasada Ranch, Tetherow, Remington Ranch and Seven Peaks along with steady competition from Eagle Crest, the heavyweight of Oregon’s destination resorts is definitely feeling the competition and retaliating with some strong counter punches in re-defining the vision that Gray foresaw when he sold the first residential lot in 1968.
“We’ve been the big duck in a little pond for a long time in Oregon,” said ShanRae Hawkins, director of marketing and leisure sales for Sunriver Resort. “Now, coming up on our 40th anniversary, we’ve made a visible and concerted effort to show just who we are and who we want to be in the future.”
For openers, the resort community recently unveiled a new front door, or $900,000 roundabout and monolithic steel sign completed just in time for the star-studded Jeld-Wen Tradition at its signature Crosswater Course that symbolizes a bold new look.
The roundabout features new signage, waterfall that circulates 1,500 gallons per minute, rockscape and native vegetation along South Century Drive that is the first sign of new things to come.
The roundabout is also a symbol of cooperation between the Sunriver Owners Association, Sunriver Resort, Caldera Springs and the new player in town, Silverstar Destinations, LLC, which purchased the village mall and promptly announced plans for a European-style village that will further cement the branding of a new Sunriver.
SilverStar Destinations, comprised of a group of investors who either own homes in Sunriver or have visited the resort frequently over the years, is finalizing its master plan and submitting a re-zoning proposal as a Town Center District along with the re-routing of Beaver Drive as part of its plan to pump new life in the mall that the majority of the community’s 4,100 residents have listed as the top priority in the urban community.
Built in the 1970’s, the Village Mall in Sunriver has increasingly aged while failing to keep pace with the vibrant destination resort community before being sold in 2006. John Goodman, representing the group of new investors, said he hopes new plans for 26.8 acres will “enhance and define the Sunriver Experience for the next three generations or more” with phases of retail, commercial, office and residential dwellings as well as a centerpiece lodge on the drawing board.
The developers will introduce a Town Center District re-zoning proposal later this month that they hope will be the first step toward Phase I that includes the expansion of the Country Store to 15,000 square feet and the demolition of the six southern-most buildings to make way for 60,000 square feet of commercial space and 100 residential units.
“it’s all about staying competitive with other Central Oregon resorts and planned resorts,” said Barbara Wade, a member of the Sunriver Owners Association Negotiating Team that is representing the community while working with SilverStar Destinations. “We want to remain alive and vibrant and I think everyone agrees that one of the major stepping stones is the mall.”
Once completed, the Village at Sunriver will include 90,000 to 120,000 square feet of retail and commercial space built in phases; a 75-foot high lodge and adjoining ice rink; a wide array of housing to include town homes, low-rise stacked flats, condo-hotel units and fractional ownership residences and pedestrian walkways and bicycle trails, plazas and courtyards.
Beaver Drive will be re-routed to curve west into the project and serve to separate the core of the village from the proposed development of a cluster of town homes while stimulating more pedestrian traffic.
The center corridor of the village will be two-way vehicle accessed but engineered for pedestrian-only traffic at peak periods according to Goodman.
Sunriver also created a buzz with the development of the 617-acre Caldera Springs, the first major community created within Sunriver since 1995. Caldera Springs features 320 home sites ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 plus 45 resort cabins being built by Sun Forest Construction and starting at $650,000. Nearly 75 percent of the home sites were quickly sold in two phases and about 35 homes have been completed or are under construction.
John Fettig, principal broker at Sunriver Realty, said that while home sales have declined from peak levels in 2006, sales in Sunriver are comparable to 2003 and 2004 and median prices stabilizing.
“Stabilized prices offer new opportunities for buyers and over time can contribute to a healthy growth trend,” he said. “Location in Sunriver remains very desirable. We have a greater inventory availability, stabilized prices and historically local interest rates—all the ingredients for a stable and healthy real estate market in Sunriver.”
Other vibrant community signs include Sunriver Resort’s announced plans to double the size of its marina that offers kayaking, canoeing and rafting on the Deschutes River and the stables area that offers horseback riding and the popular winter sleigh rides.
“We had record numbers of people at the marina in July and August and corporate retreats for companies like Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Microsoft continue to be attracted to these facilities,” Hawkins said. “What so many people don’t know is that a large percentage of the people using the marina are locals from Bend.
“We’ve seen phenomenal community activity at the marina and the horseback riding is always popular with those from our Portland and Seattle markets who love the Western experience. We’re simply expanding to meet a growing demand.”
Craig Peterson, director of engineering for Sunriver, said site plans have been submitted to double the marina with a lodge look encompassing 1,500 square feet and a 1,400 square foot welcome center at the stables. Both will meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design standards.
Peterson said Sunriver is also reviewing plans and making FAA compliance changes for the resort airstrip that will include improvements to ramps, runway and taxi areas with a new entry off River Road already completed as part of a three-year comprehensive plan.
The resort’s signature golf courses at The Meadows, Woodlands and Crosswater Club have a new companion, a family-friendly 12-hole executive course at Caldera Springs where kayaking, canoeing and other water activities are also available on three man-made bodies of water.
So, now it seems like Sunriver has every outdoor activity under the sun, covered, right? Well, not exactly, but local officials are getting closer with the introduction of Central Oregon’s first Flowrider Park, an indoor facility that offers the sport of flowboarding or the high desert’s answer to surfing.
A group of four local property management companies, headed by Larry Browning of Discover Sunriver Vacation Rentals, are developing an indoor pool and Flowrider at Mavericks on Cottonwood Road.
The 2,000 square foot facility, currently under construction, is set to open in Spring 2008 and should be an instant hit with guests and locals seeking an alternative to winter sports.
Under the leadership of Sunriver Resort vice president Tom Luersen, Sunriver Realty, the Sunriver Owners Association and the resort have contributed $90,000 each toward a partnership with the Central Oregon Visitors Association in creating a new marketing campaign focusing on the West Coast market that promotes the Sunriver Experience with ads in Sunset and Westways magazines.
“We realized that the resort needs to lead the charge and a concerted effort by all of us is only going to pay dividends,” Hawkins said. “Sunriver has been a tradition for so many families for so many years.
“It is a known commodity across the nation. We have one of the highest repeat-guest rates of any resort in the nation and want to continue to move the needle as a four-diamond resort.
“The visible changes are there for everyone to see and now we putting together all of our resources and coming together as a community to show the best we have to offer everyone.”

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