What exactly do you do with a retired ferry boat from the 1960s? Well, if you’re Portland developer Jonathan Cohen, you plan to turn it into a trendy hotel floating on the Willamette River just north of the Pearl District.
Cohen made a winning $300,000 bid for Taku—a massive 352-foot ferry that’s transported thousands of passengers around southern Alaska since its launch in 1963. Retired in 2015, the ferry has been sitting idle while the Alaska Department of Transportation put it up for sale. And they just confirmed the sale to Cohen.
"Our hope is to bring it to Portland, Oregon, where we're based and to use it as a way to give this very historic vessel a second life," Cohen told The Juneau Empire.
Once the ferry is transported to Portland, Cohen plans to gut it and transform the vessel into a waterfront hotel and restaurant, along the lines of his existing Society Hotel. It’d have hostel-style shared rooms and individual rooms, along with space for a farmers market on the boat’s parking deck and offices for digital nomads to work.
“We’re not looking to offer high-end hotel rooms. We’re actually looking to make these the least-expensive hotel rooms in town,” Cohen said.
The ferry could potentially anchor a larger development site Cohen is brewing at Terminal 1 for “river-related activities” including a pier for water sports, a park, and seaplane terminal. Stay tuned!