When Bill Allred needed to have his left knee replaced five years ago, he sought out an orthopedic surgeon who works out of an office near St. Charles Bend.

Allred, who lives in the Portland area, had to stay in Bend for 10 days after his surgery for follow-up appointments and to begin physical therapy, so he started looking for an extended-stay hotel with a full-size refrigerator, space to cook and a separate bedroom.

Bend has a handful of extended-stay hotels, but none near St. Charles. Allred, the president and CEO of Hallmark Inns and Resorts, saw an opportunity.

“I’ve been in the hotel business 40-plus years, and I was thinking this place needed an extended-stay hotel,” Allred said.

The Bend City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Allred’s request to change city code to allow extended-stay hotels in the city’s medical district, a 280-acre area around St. Charles Bend. To qualify, at least 75 percent of the hotel rooms must be furnished for multi-night stays and include kitchen amenities other than a microwave. The code change will still require another vote Dec. 20.

Only 8 acres in the medical district can be used for commercial uses, four south of Neff Road and four north of Neff Road. Changing the development code won’t increase the total number of acres, but it will allow extended-stay hotels to use more than the maximum 4,000 to 8,000 square feet alloted to other commercial buildings in the district.

This is because extended-stay hotel rooms typically range from 400 to 1,000 square feet, while traditional hotel rooms are typically 200 to 400 square feet. The hotel Allred hopes to build near St. Charles would have rooms with full kitchens and one or two bedrooms.

“There’s just nothing here that has the facilities we’re going to have,” he said. “We’re going to make them as residential as possible. The rooms will be closer to home than a hotel room.”

St. Charles, as well as neighboring medical providers, supported the change in letters to the Bend Planning Commission and City Council. St. Charles Bend is the largest hospital and largest private employer in Central Oregon, and patients come from surrounding counties for treatment in Bend.

The closest hotel to St. Charles is more than a mile away, and the nearest extended-stay hotel is several miles away in the Old Mill District, said Garrett Chrostek, a Bend attorney who represented Allred and Hallmark Inns and Resorts before the City Council.

“We’re trying to reduce vehicle miles traveled, bring those uses together (and) provide something that’s easy and comfortable for all the regional users of the medical district,” he said.

Patients’ families who want to stay near St. Charles now have access to a free recreational vehicle park on the west side of the hospital. The Bend Ronald McDonald House also has space for up to six families who travel to Bend to obtain medical treatment for a child.

Jessica Jarratt Miller, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington, said its houses in Portland and Bend sometimes get calls from people who need to stay near the hospital but don’t qualify because their patients are adults. They refer those calls to a national network, but having more housing options near the hospital, especially discounted housing, would help, she said.

“If it means that there’s going to be additional housing opportunities near the hospital, that’s a good thing,” she said. “Especially for people getting cancer treatment and living in a rural area, they often need to travel for care.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com