A Rogue Valley landmark, Mon Desir Dining Inn sits vacant awaiting its next incarnation as the centerpiece of an outdoor shopping area in an upscale neighborhood.
Plans for Mon Desir Estates were put on the back burner because of a decline in the local real estate market and the priorities of developers Edic Sliva, Jonathan Jensen and Ryan Csaftis.
The planned 70 units on Hamrick Road also were downscaled to 30 or so units since the trio outlined the project a year ago.
"So many developers are building condominiums and townhomes," Csaftis said, adding that high-density residential areas have become less desirable.
Sliva, the founder of a Santa Clara, Calif., microelectronics firm, acquired the historic building and an adjoining parcel of property for $1.7 million in 2005.
The previous owner, William Link, spent about six months restoring the former orchard mansion and restaurant that had declined in prominence and grandeur over several decades.
Construction of Mon Desir Estates was set to begin early this year but was put off while Sliva, Jensen and Csaftis — operating under the name Valley Core Development — finished up Stonegate Estates, a 32-unit luxury condominium project off Medford's North Phoenix Road. Csaftis is a local real estate agent with John L. Scott. Jensen is a builder.
Ground-breaking at Mon Desir Estates still could take place this year, Csaftis said, and the project recently went before the city of Central Point's planning department. Homes inside the development likely will be in the early 20th-century style and feature two to four bedrooms. Pricing hasn't been set, but the first 16 units in Valley Core Development's Stonegate Estates were listed between $220,000 and $250,000.
The developers say they'll restore the old Mon Desir Dining Inn as a restaurant, though they initially planned to turn it into a clubhouse. The long-running dinner house closed in 2002, reopened a year later under Link's ownership and ultimately shut its doors except to catered events in early 2005. Csaftis said a new tenant has not been found.
One of the Rogue Valley's few remaining orchard mansions, Mon Desir was constructed in 1910 in the Tudor-revival style for Conro Fiero and his wife, Grace. The one-and-a-half story, U-shaped building sports steep gable roofs and a widow's walk.
The home was the centerpiece of a 140-acre orchard estate known as "Woodlawn," where the era's elite partied with Conro, a millionaire, and Grace, a former Broadway actress. The couple, however, struggled to make ends meet in the unpredictable fruit industry and lost Woodlawn during World War I.
The building was renovated to accommodate a restaurant that opened in 1946 and served up Southern-style chicken dinners. But it failed about six months later. A fine-dining hall, christened "Mon Desir" (French for "my desire") operated at the spot for nearly 20 years under the ownership of Alex and Julie Tummers.
In 1966, Stan and Tommie Smith of Medford bought Mon Desir and continued the fine-dining tradition. The past three decades have seen several owners and fewer customers before Link, who owns Panther Crushing, tried to restore Mon Desir to its former glory as a special-occasion restaurant.