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Landmark inn to offer senior housing

The Northern Queen Inn in Nevada City is planning to switch about half its motel rooms into apartments for senior citizens, largely stemming from a declining tourism business, according to a co-owner.

The site within walking distance of downtown Nevada City should appeal to seniors who are on their own and don’t need a full house anymore, said co-owner Robyn Adams, confirming the project that had been discussed around town.

“The hospitality business has not been that strong the past two years, and we were thinking that it would be good for active senior living,” Adams told The Union.



“It’s for totally independent people,” she added. “This is being done all over the United States.”

Adams also is betting that the Northern Queen’s remaining motel rooms will be rented to relatives who come to visit the seniors.




Nevada County has one of the state’s oldest populations by county, and it is getting older ” a demographic that has resonated with project developers. A fourth drugstore for the Grass Valley area, a Longs, recently was proposed on Idaho-Maryland Road.

Nevada City has received plans for the renovation at the Northern Queen Inn, and the permitting process is under way. Adams hopes to begin some work on the project this fall or winter.

The loss of 40 motel rooms is expected to dampen Nevada City’s sales and transient occupancy tax, because it is the biggest motel in the city.

The 8 percent transient occupancy tax collected in the city has been falling, stemming from a decline in tourism brought on by the prolonged economic slump.

The tax collected by the city and contributed to the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce stood at $5,778 in the first quarter and $3,827 in the second quarter of this year. It was $25,700 in 2007, $28,311 in 2006, $26,740 in 2005 and $27,392 in 2004, according to the figures. The figure was as high as $29,978 in 1999.

The opening of the Miners Inn Holiday Inn Express also has put more motel rooms on the market, putting pressure on existing lodging owners.

“The restaurant will still be there,” Adams said, along with the gardens used for receptions and the narrow gauge railroad tours at the back of the property. The Trolley Junction Restaurant is popular and is the meeting place for the 49er Breakfast Rotary Club of Nevada City, among other groups.

The seniors will live in one-bedroom apartments and be given three meals a day from the Trolley Junction Restaurant as part of their payment, Adams said. Their rooms also will be cleaned once per week.

“It is absolutely not a nursing home,” Adams said. Her father, Roy Ramey, started the motel.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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