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Geoff Thompson said materials should arrive next week to begin fixing structure

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - The View Point Inn in Corbett still in a state of disrepair.Eight months later, View Point Inn owner Geoff Thompson has received approval from Multnomah County to rebuild the historic structure at 40301 E. Larch Mountain Road. Now he is waiting to get his building permit from the city of Gresham, and the city said that should only take a few days.

Multnomah County Land Use and Planning is responsible for review of zoning requirements and land use permits in unincorporated areas such as Corbett, but contracts with the city of Gresham to do code inspections on the property and issue building permits.

“Never in my life, in my wildest imagination did I think the county was going to take that long to approve our plans,” Thompson said. “I thought by October 1, we’d be completely shelled in.”

As of now, the hole remains in the roof, letting in rain and whatever is carried by the wind. Glass doors at the inn’s front and back entry have been shattered. There is a big hole in the back porch and missing bricks from a stone path. The fountain is a pile of rubble and weeds have overtaken the back yard where wedding parties and Twilight producers took advantage in the wide-angle view of the Columbia Gorge.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - A glass door is shattered at the historic inn. “They wouldn’t let us do anything until we had the county’s red stamp,” Thompson said.

Thompson applied in January for a building and land-use permit to rebuild the inn that burned in July 2011 as a single-family dwelling with a pool and a pool/spa house. Along with approval for the site to stay a National Scenic Area Landmark, the county approved Thompson’s plans on Sept. 5.

“Why the city of Gresham can process a building permit in a couple of days and yet the county took eight months — it’s disgusting,” Thompson said.

But Thompson said he is still determined to get the inn shelled in by winter, including the structural foundation, framing and roofing.

“I imagine materials will be delivered next week,” he said.

Thompson said everything on the outside will be reconstructed except for the windows and doors, which must wait until spring because they are handcrafted. He said they are also expensive and cannot be rushed or exposed to the elements until they are ready to be stained, painted and sealed.

Once the outside is shelled, Thompson said he will be able to start working on the inside.

People may have noticed the parking lot adjacent to the View Point Inn is for sale. Thompson said he hasn’t owned it for two years.

“I used to own it and they foreclosed on it. It doesn’t affect me, my life or my future,” he said. “But I wish them (the lot’s owners) well. God bless the universe, I just want to get on with building.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Inn exterior gets uglier over time.The fire that burned the inn damaged much of its second floor and roof. Thompson had county permission to reconstruct the inn’s rafters, which he did in March, and put a tarp over the roof. But the tarp never went up because Thompson said it was too costly.

Reconstruction on the View Point Inn has sat stagnant since then, a source of continued frustration for the community.

But Thompson, sole owner of the View Point Inn, said the funds to rebuild are already in place. He will use money received Nov. 26, 2012, in a settlement with insurance companies, to pour $3.7 million into rebuilding the structure, and $1 million into the grounds outside.

Thompson has called the inn his legacy and his “Tara,” a reference to the iconic plantation featured prominently in the 1939 movie “Gone With the Wind.”

Thompson plans to live at the View Point once reconstruction is complete. Then he plans to reopen it as a hotel, gift shop and visitor center.

Since Thompson purchased the View Point Inn for a second time in 2004 with his partner Angelo Simione (who Thompson said is now battling melanoma), the two have been the center of a public financial controversy.

Thompson’s insurance on the inn had lapsed in months prior to the fire. A week later, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which was converted to Chapter 7. Court documents then revealed Thompson owed $2.9 million to creditors, government agencies, former employees and wedding planners.

“I’m really excited to finally be on the path,” Thompson said. “Here it is almost two and a half years since the fire, and finally we have a building permit to start building.”

Thompson has claimed his debts to creditors were cleared in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy and money he owed former employees was paid by the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. BOLI spokesman Charlie Burr said the View Point Inn has no pending claims.

Thompson has said he will pay back any lingering brides and former employees when the inn reopens.

“How I heal the past and all the hurt feeling is by rebuilding this building, and I’m going to do it,” he told The Outlook.

‘I wanted to believe in his dream’

Linda Holevas recently revisited the View Point Inn. She said she was retrieving a brick from the yard’s stone path, one that a friend of hers had dedicated years ago.

She isn’t the only one who has taken back an engraved memory beside the once dreamy historic inn, severely neglected since a fire destroyed its structure in July 2011.

Holevas remembers the day of the fire. She drove out as quickly as she could when she heard the news.

“It’s just so sad,” said the inn’s former events manager. “I loved it here.”

Holevas was employed six months, almost an entire wedding season, before her paychecks started bouncing, she said.

She and the inn’s chef, now working in New Orleans, had grown suspicious of Thompson’s spending habits before they learned the extent of his expenditures.

“He owed so much money,” she said.

Holevas said she finally got the some $3,000 in earnings she was owed, but only after hounding Thompson on Facebook to pay up.

She remembers getting a call from Thompson’s attorney asking her to quit “defaming” him. “But I wasn’t telling any untruths,” she said.

Then she received a check. It bounced. “He knowingly gave me a bad check,” said Holevas.

Thompson finally paid Holevas in full, “But I was one of the few,” she said.

Holevas remembers Thompson, her boss who she grew to know well, would show up to direct his employees wearing a bathrobe and acted as though he believed he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Holevas said Thompson dreamed of making the View Point Inn a success.

“I wanted to believe in his dream,” she said. “But his dream was a fraud.”

Holevas recalled a wedding held at the View Point Inn. She said employees arrived to find that no food had been purchased for the day’s event. If the wedding was to have food, she and other employees would have to buy it. “We paid out of pocket for the wedding’s food,” said Holevas.

She remembers another time she was serving lunch on the porch, and a roof shingle fell on a customer’s head. Knowing the roof was long overdue for a fix, when she reported the incident to her boss, Thompson told her those were the people they should be asking for money to save the roof.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” Holevas said.

“I hope whoever ends up with this property has success,” Holevas said. “There’s just something very enchanting about being here.”

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