Like the pioneering spirit the rodeo has promoted since its conception, the Pendleton Round-Up is expanding westward.
In the last two months, the Round-Up Association has purchased three properties on the western edge of much of its current holdings and the famed Round-Up Grounds.
On Sept. 19, just days after the 2017 rodeo concluded, the Round-Up Association bought a 36,142 square-foot commercial property at 125 S.W. 18th St. that houses the Frontier Tavern for $325,000, according to Umatilla County records. Two weeks prior, on Sept. 6, the association completed the purchase of a 4,791 square-foot residential property at 1821 S.W. Byers Ave. The group later purchased a second residential property at 18 S.W. 18th Street on Sept. 28 for $85,000 — more than twice the real market value. The purchases add to the host of properties the nonprofit organization owns in that area.
The acquisitions represent the first expansion the association has made since 2011 and adds to their considerable catalog of land.
Across three separate entities — the association, Pendleton Round-Up Holdings LLC and the Pendleton Round-Up Foundation — the Round-Up owns 28 acres valued at $7.7 million in real market value and $6.7 million in assessed value.
The 1800 block of Southwest Byers Avenue is of mutual interest to the Round-Up and the Pendleton city government — the city owns 11 properties in the area while the Round-Up owns six. With the exception of the Round-Up’s most recent purchases, all of the Round-Up’s properties near Byers were acquired for free in 2011.
Randy Thomas, publicity director for the Round-Up, said the organization has no immediate plans for the newly acquired property but wants to be prepared if an opportunity to grow presents itself.
“The Pendleton Round-Up lives on the good nature of the people who own property around us,” Thomas said. “If a piece of property is available, the Round-Up would probably take a look at it.”
Thomas also mentioned FARM II, the second phase of a Blue Mountain Community College animal science project that would include a rodeo arena. He said the college has asked the Round-Up if such a facility could be built within the rodeo’s footprint, and the rodeo board is willing to consider the prospect.
“The Round-Up in its charter was to benefit Pendleton and specifically education,” he said. “We would see that potentially fitting within our prime directive.”
Such an addition would take up more of the existing property, and would require the Round-Up to “spread out” or continue relying on the goodwill of nearby neighbors.
Regardless of its future plans, the association will now have to contend with being a landlord on the 125 S.W. 18th Street, which contains a 10,000 square-foot strip mall.
Parley Pearce bought the property about a decade ago with the intention of tearing the mall down, before the owners of the Frontier Tavern showed interest in staying. Besides the bar, the strip mall’s other main occupant is the Age of Woods carpentry. The rest is used as a warehouse for Hamley’s, which is co-owned by Pearce.
Diana Snyder, the co-owner of Frontier Tavern, said the Round-Up eventually told her husband, Harry, that it intends to honor the bar’s current lease, which runs through December 2018. But Snyder said she was unsure if the Round-Up would renew the contract beyond that point.
Snyder said she and her husband have owned the Frontier Tavern for about 10 years and have amassed a loyal customer base in the process. According to Snyder, the owners wouldn’t be the only group who would be affected by the tavern’s closure. The bar’s four employees, the Keystone RV Co. employees who cash their checks at the bar, and the local businesses who supply their beverages and uniforms would all lose out, too.
“We’d love to stay here,” Snyder said, adding that she wants advance notice from the Round-Up if it intends to have them vacate the property after the lease ends.
Thomas said there no current plans to end the lease or ask the tavern to move.
Frontier Tavern’s next door neighbor, Age of Woods, is already preparing to move.
In a September interview, Age of Woods craftsman Mark Blanchard said he found out through Pearce that he needs to vacate his woodshop by Friday.
Luckily for Blanchard, Pearce has already agreed to house his shop at another property he owns — the Oak Hotel at 327 S.E. First St. in downtown Pendleton.
As for the Hamley’s warehouse, Pearce said he has until the end of the year to clear it out.
Editor Daniel Wattenburger contributed to this story. Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.