Rio Nido Lodge

ON THE BLOCK — Several historic Russian River commercial properties are up for sale this winter.

Several iconic river properties are currently up for sale, including Applewood, the Monte Rio Theater and the Rio Nido Lodge.

Applewood Inn, the resort that includes the historic Belden mansion and more than five acres of idyllic greenery, is priced at $5.5 million. The property offers luxury lodging and a high-end restaurant that once boasted a coveted Michelin star.

Applewood Inn

Applewood is also for sale.

The 5.5-acre property’s amenities include a swimming pool, spa, electric vehicle charging stations, fruit trees and a large garden which “could easily be rejuvenated to service a fine dining kitchen,” says the listing. “The potential for wedding business is enormous.”

Prospective Russian River resort buyers can also get a deal this winter for the Rio Nido Lodge, the distinctive Tudor style hotel and restaurant whose history dates back to the Big Band Era. Last February’s flood inundated the lodge’s bottom floor with five feet of water, so the current $1.5 million asking price reflects a $1 million price cut, said owner Dennis Judd’s listing on Loopnet.

“All damaged materials have been removed, and the property is ready to be rebuilt,” says the listing. “We are looking for an investor/operator with resort experience” who can bring the lodge back to historic glory as a hotel, restaurant and bar as well as develop potential new uses.

“We are working with Sonoma County PRMD (Permit and Resource Management Department) to facilitate development of an additional 20-30 tent sites to increase occupancy and event potential,” says the lodge listing.

The existing hotel, built in the 1930s, is 11,000 square feet with 11 rooms, two cottages, an innkeeper’s quarters, two large banquet rooms and a 2,000 square-foot bar/café.

“Several adjacent parcels are included in the sale bringing the total number of parcels to five (3.88 acres), allowing for considerable additional potential,” says the listing seeking a sale or lease/option.

Another lower river landmark, Monte Rio’s 70-year-old Rio Theater, went on sale last week with an asking price of $895,000 for the familiar Quonset hut-style movie house at the entrance to the Monte Rio Bridge.

Rio Theater

Rio Theater

The current owners, a group of approximately two-dozen Bay Area partners who bought the rustic landmark from Rio Nido residents Don and Suzi Schaffert in 2013, said operating the Rio has become a greater challenge than first imagined.

At first the new owners brought enthusiasm inspired by “the unique property, incredible location and stunning natural surroundings,” said the owners’ media statement announcing the sale. “The theater received a much-needed deep clean and an overall aesthetic refresh” such as new paint and theater seating.

Some of the partners lived in the community and “were able to dedicate significant time to the theater’s programming, renovations, and management,” said the Rio’s announcement, “but in the past few years due to changes in personal and professional lives (new babies, new jobs), it has become increasingly difficult for the group to devote the necessary time and energy to the beloved theater.”

An unspoken sense of fatigue seems to run through all these lower river real estate offerings. The Rio Theater’s marginal existence had always seemed to balance its aging facilities (such as no heat) with the affection bestowed by local community loyalty (movie goers brought blankets on cold nights). Last year’s flood, the worst river flood disaster in 24 years, took its toll, closing the theater and the Rio Café behind it operated under a lease to Paul DuBray and his partner Alain LeCloux.

“We were told there was no chance the water would come up into the café because it’s never gotten that high,” said DuBray, who watched the floodwater rise from his hillside home. “There was two and a half feet of water inside the café, and our appliances were bobbing around in there like fishing bobs.”

The past year of flood recovery, limited operations and fewer community events “has served as a wakeup call that it is time to find new owners for the iconic property so that it has the chance to serve the local region in the best way possible,” said the Rio’s partners.

“We continue to believe in the amazing potential of this historic and unique property, especially considering the increased interest and attention the Russian River has seen in recent years. We are looking for dedicated buyers who believe in the power of film and art and culture to transform lives, and are excited about the opportunity to see the Rio Theater thrive serving as a gathering place for locals and visitors to the Russian River.”

(1) comment

El Dorko

All these properties will require very deep pockets and a couple years to clear a nickel if you have to finance and can't pay all cash. Mortgages requisite payments have changed the whole financial chemistry set for buying commercial river properties. If someone has money to burn and needs a hobby, well, then, come on up and good luck.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.