Restoration and Rehabilitation Proposal

This proposal is being presented on behalf of John King and Rob Rossi to outline our proposed plans for the Motel Inn site.

The proposed project for the Motel Inn site is a complex “restoration” project, relying on the rehabilitation of the main 2-story Motel Inn building, and the reconstruction of the bungalow court motel rooms to facilitate their continued visitor use, plus new visitor serving units added to the immediate north of the Motel Inn.

The main building will include rehabilitation of these buildings to the 1970’s size and use, to accommodate the restaurant, meetings rooms and lounge uses common during that period.

Reconstruction of the bungalow courtyard is proposed because of the dilapidated and unsafe structural condition of the buildings. This work would be done for the courtyard-fronting units, and to replicate the original feel and context for this courtyard. Significant landscaping will also be retained and added in order to compliment this courtyard.

As of this date, the construction project is proposed to be a single phase development. All construction related to the Motel Inn would occur simultaneously with the additions to the Apple Farm proposed for the adjacent site.

The Motel Inn site, as it is referred, was the subject of a real estate endeavor by brothers Arthur and Alfred Heineman of Southern California (Pasadena area). The Heineman’s formed the “Milestone Interstate Corporation” in 1925 to construct and operate a chain of eighteen motor courts they planned for California-Oregon -Washington to accommodate automobile travel as a growing form of recreation. Their concept was to construct these motels approximately 150-200 miles apart, to allow a days drive between sites.

The concept included amenities not otherwise available outside of traditional hotel services, including maid services, a restaurant and commissary, laundry facilities, playgrounds, and a fully stocked and staffed garage facility on-site, to accommodate the inevitable mechanical problems encountered with touring vehicles of that day. The motel site was also quick to offer special accommodations for traveling staff of visitors, most notably drivers and butler personnel.

The Heineman’s were soliciting investors for their projects, and felt it was important to construct an initial, prototype project, to engender the public’s interest and enthusiasm. The initial, and ultimately only, motel constructed was the Motel Inn site in San Luis Obispo.

The depression of the 1920-30’s took its toll on the Motel Inn site, and the property was lost to foreclosure.

Since the opening of the Motel Inn in 1925, there have been various incarnations to the site, including numerous additions and modifications to the original buildings.

In 1925, the Motel Inn opened with the main structures comprised of two main two-story buildings connected by a covered walkway, as well as approximately 15 bungalow units located around a courtyard, and a series of garage and driver’s units located parallel to the creek. The northerly main building appears to have primarily been for the restaurant operation. The southerly building served as the lobby/check in area and lounge, along with a manager’s office/quarters for the site.

During the ensuing years, the face of the Motel Inn changed to adapt to customer demands. In the late 1920’s, an automobile service station was added for the convenience of guests. Seating and bathroom additions to the main building to accommodate an enlarged meal service operation appear to have been made to the northerly building.

In 1932 a large addition was made to accommodate the growing popularity of the restaurant, which remained famous as a BBQ steak operation until its closure. This addition was done between the main buildings, taking up about ½ of the lineal frontage. In that era cowhands from distant ranches would spend their entire monthly wages at the lounge, restaurant and motel through an extended weekend. The Motel Inn was well known for that customer base.

In 1942, further additions to the front pergola area between buildings was enclosed, creating a larger lounge and further expansion of the restaurant. We believe these changes were made to accommodate the growing demand generated by Camp San Luis during World War II.

In the 1950’s significant expansions of the northerly building were made to introduce conferencing and meetings areas. These areas were added close to the food service areas of the restaurant, and actually included the absorption of two or three of the stand alone bungalows within the expanded structures.

In 1972 additions to the lounge were made to the rear of the main structures, again to expand the lounge and restaurant seating areas. These changes represent the last significant additions made to the Motel Inn buildings.


Developing a strategy for improvements to the Motel Inn site begin with our objectives for use of the site. In summary, these include:

  • Encapsulate the Distinctive Character of the Spanish/Mission Themes for Motel Inn
  • Maintain Victorian Inn Themes for Apple Farm Expansions around the Motel Inn
  • Maintain the Integrity of the Original Courtyard, Landscaping and Pedestrian Walks
  • Preserve Bungalow Footprints Surrounding Original Courtyards
  • Preserve Original (Significant) Landscaping In Courtyard As Exists, Plus Enhancements
  • Open Up The Motel Inn Courtyard to Creek Trail Link
  • Emphasize Trails and Public Access Along San Luis Creek
  • Coordinate Access with Apple Farm
  • Provide Vehicle Turnaround for Ease of Access and Vehicle Access to the Site
  • "Hide" Parking by Placing Under Buildings and Landscape Berms
  • Integrate Fire Lane Accessibility through Public Paths and Creekside Trail
  • Improve Infrastructure Serving the Site
  • Reduce Freeway Noise through Use of Enclosed Corridors, Placement of Conference Center to Buffer Noise Transitions
  • Introduce a Spa with Apple Farm Expansion

Integrated in these objectives is a recognition that the automobile history of the Motel Inn should be emphasized in its historical context. While each independent bungalow had a lean-to shed for covering the autos, we believe visitor use would be better suited with car parking in a remote location.

The main courtyard behind the Motel Inn has been proposed to be maintained as originally constructed, with the one story courtyard-fronting bungalow footprints retained as well. This will maintain a pedestrian scale and orientation to this area. Unfortunately, the condition of these bungalow units is so poor that rehabilitation of these units is infeasible (see structural engineer’s report). These units have no structural integrity, and in many cases lack foundation systems or code-complying utilities. We have proposed reconstruction of these units largely on the original footprints so as to maintain the appearance of these units from the courtyard view.

The creekside garage and driver’s rooms are proposed to be removed permanently. This area would serve instead as a creekside trail, and tie into the Apple Farm projects, both existing and proposed to the north of the Motel Inn.

Building from these objectives, we have chosen to maintain the additions to the main buildings made through the 1970’s for the restaurant and meetings areas. This will allow the site to provide meals service throughout the day, and accommodate meetings trade, which was quite popular the final 20 years of its operation.

Further Motel Inn additions are proposed behind and around the original main building and bungalows. These additional rooms and added meetings/conferencing space would occur outside of the original buildings footprints, so as to maintain the original context and character of the Motel Inn.

The proposed Motel Inn project will require the addition of parking, fire access, and other features that will need to be built to accommodate reopening of the Motel Inn. Parking is planned to be located along with required parking for the Apple Farm expansion partially underground, below the Apple Farm units proposed at the far north end of the site. Fire and pedestrian access paths are included as a part of the auto circulation system, and therefore would be developed along with the parking. At this time, the improvements at the Motel Inn, as conceived by the owners, will occur in one simultaneous phase of construction with the proposed additions to the Apple Farm.