By Elon Glucklich

The Bulletin

First it was a demolition that shocked and outraged much of Bend.

Then it was a grandiose plan for condos, shops, offices and restaurants.

The former Brooks-Scanlon crane shed site on Southwest Industrial Way is an open field today, same as it’s been for nearly 10 years.

But its next act could be as a Marriott hotel. A Montana real estate firm specializing in hotel construction submitted planning documents to the city of Bend in October, detailing plans to build a four-story, 90-room Marriott SpringHill Suites hotel on the crane shed property, just north of the Old Mill District.

Those plans are far from certain, however. Officials with the Montana company, Braxton Development, met with the city in November to discuss the plan. But they haven’t followed up with a formal application, according to Bend Senior Planner Aaron Henson.

Still, he said, the developers have stayed in contact.

“I wouldn’t say we haven’t heard anything from them,” Henson said Monday. “I think they’re still proceeding with their due diligence.”

Braxton Development officials didn’t return messages seeking comment Monday. The company’s director of development told The Bulletin in November they planned to move forward, but hadn’t received formal approval from Marriott.

A hotel would end a decade of turmoil on the four-acre property, which may tell the story of Bend’s real estate boom and bust as well as any other piece of land in the city.

The Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company built the 70-foot-high crane shed in the late 1930s as a storage facility for its lumber.

The company closed in 1994 as the timber industry declined, but the crane shed remained as a local historic landmark — for another decade, anyway.

A group of local investors bought the property for $2.8 million in 2003, hoping to knock it down and build a mixed-use retail building in its place.

Crown Investment Group got the go-ahead from the city council to demolish it. But the company knocked the crane shed down just a day after the city council decision and without a demolition permit, doing the work in the middle of the night and generating so much outrage that the city sued and won a $100,000 judgment against Crown.

The developers may have gotten the last laugh, however. Without ever constructing their planned building, Crown sold the property in 2005 for $5 million.

The buyer, Bend resident Stephen Trono, had an even more ambitious plan for the crane shed. In 2006, Trono proposed a massive development on the property dubbed “The Mercato,” with six buildings totaling 33,300 square feet for retail, 19,500 square feet of restaurant space, 20,700 square feet of office space, 54 condominiums and underground parking, according to The Bulletin’s archives.

The city approved the plan, but by 2007 Bend’s red-hot real estate market was cooling fast, as property values plummeted and foreclosures mounted.

The Mercato never got off the ground. Trono’s lender, PremierWest Bank, filed a $4.7 million breach of contract lawsuit against him in March 2010, and he was critically injured in July of that year when his wife mistook him for an intruder and shot him multiple times in their Bend home. Trono survived the shooting, and his family has since left the area.

PremierWest sold the crane shed property in 2011 in a short sale for $1.4 million, to an executive of the former Bend company Edge Wireless. The executive, Cal Cannon, still owns the property, according to Deschutes County records.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com

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