After two years as a COVID quarantine site, Portland’s Jupiter Hotel is getting a makeover
Rockers and tourists will soon have a home again while in Portland. After a two-year hiatus, The Jupiter—the iconic hotel that helped revitalize Lower Burnside Street—reopens after a complete renovation. All 81 rooms now have brand new carpeting, repainted walls and new furniture. (Gone are the popcorn ceilings as well, which have been replastered and painted for a sleek modern look.)
Now called Jupiter Original, the converted motor lodge opened in 2004 in what some might have called an up-and-coming neighborhood and others might have called a slightly seedy section of Portland’s Central Eastside industrial neighborhood, breathing new life into the long-neglected commercial strip. . The Jupiter’s relatively affordable, no-frills but still edgy rooms have sometimes served as art galleries or photo studios.
The hotel’s popular live music venue, the Doug Fir Lounge, open then, too; James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker’s Pigeon followed in 2006, facing the always trendy collective of avant-garde boutiques at 811 E Burnside. Eventually, the east end of the Burnside Bridge, once dominated by car dealerships, would be dominated by a skyscraper housing luxury condos and the Tie Springs Spa.
In March 2020, the pandemic forced the Jupiter to close to the public for who knows how long. That’s when hotel co-owner Kelsey Bunker and general manager Nick Pearson learned that Multnomah County was looking for places to house COVID-positive people who were homeless and didn’t had no safe place to isolate themselves. “We just looked at each other and went, OK, let’s have a call,” Bunker said.
“It filled an absolutely vital need for the Multnomah County community,” says Marc Jolin, the former director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services, who is now the agency’s director of special projects. “We were looking for a hotel like Jupiter, where the rooms open to the exterior, not the interior hallway, to reduce exposure to COVID. This made it safer for the staff to effectively support the people who were there.
From March 2020 to May 2022, more than 1,400 people who needed a place to sleep passed through the hotel, says Jolin. Before reopening to the public in 2022, Bunker decided to take advantage of the empty space and do a complete renovation. “We’ve done small renovations since we opened in 2004, but it was definitely time for a big update,” says Bunker. “It’s a top-down refresher.”
The hotel worked closely with Megan Millie Design for the revival of Jupiter Original, the same design firm used for Jupiter Next, the fancier sibling that opened in 2018. Jupiter Original stays true to its rock and roll roots. roll, with brand-new murals in every room, like the one of Marilyn Monroe that reads like a delightfully demented cross between Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock.
All are of course music-themed, featuring the likes of David Bowie, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. Even the furniture seems a homage to the ’60s rock and roll era, with modern adaptations of mid-century-style sofas and comfortable egg-shaped swivel chairs.
Since Jupiter Original shares ownership with the Doug Fir, the hotel is a place for rockers to hang out for the après (after?) party, though hotel managers don’t speak out against off-stage behavior. The basement concert hall is currently open for performances, but the full reopening of its restaurant and bar, which will feature an expanded menu, will coincide with the hotel’s July 15 reopening. The music lounge also had its seats reupholstered for a fresher look. , with all new cushions.
As with other updates, the outdoor Dream Tent, a gathering space often used for weddings and events, will have new lighting and undergo a major cleanup for a more minimal look. And for every Portlander who, at one time or another, has become the owner of anything from fortune cookies to mystery bags through the Venderia, a local vending machine business that stocks random items, this service will be available. at Jupiter Original, because you just never know when you’ll need a semi-porn comic in the middle of the night.
“I think the most important thing is that we just want to keep responding to the community,” Bunker says. “There is a need again for hotel rooms and a place to have fun and let loose. And we’re really happy to be able to provide that.