ASHLAND — The Windmill Inn has announced plans to transform its Ashland property into a 22-building "upscale lifestyle community" that could include commercial, residential and lodging facilities.

ASHLAND — The Windmill Inn has announced plans to transform its Ashland property into a 22-building "upscale lifestyle community" that could include commercial, residential and lodging facilities.

The city approved the first and smallest phase of the project Wednesday, which includes a new lobby for the building of 72 suites, the only rooms still in operation. The company's Web site details plans for the future of the Windmill Inn site.

Additional phases dubbed "The Village Suites at Ashland Hills" will require demolition of the remaining buildings and have not been formally submitted, said Amy Anderson, an assistant planner for the city.

"According to our land-use ordinance, you cannot do demolition unless you have replacement plans," she said. "They have not applied for demolition yet, but it will be coming eventually."

Although plans indicated the need for further market study, the preliminary master plan submitted to the city last week for the 13.83-acre lot contained multistory buildings with commercial space on the ground floor and residential units above, including some affordable housing.

"The overall goal is to transform the property from a tourist-based transient lodging facility to a community-based mixed-use development blending retail, office, residential and leisure uses with a smaller lodging component in a green and pedestrian-friendly setting," read a letter submitted to the city with site review plans.

The letter also explained the reason behind the renovations.

"Due to market conditions, travel difficulties and new technologies making large conferences and meetings obsolete, there has been a decrease in the demand for conference space," the letter said.

According to submitted materials, the original hotel was completed in 1978 and purchased by the Windmill Inn chain in 1986. The Windmill Inn is owned by Jeld-Wen, a privately held door and window manufacturer based in Klamath Falls. Jeld-Wen operates a string of destination resorts in Oregon and the West.

Representatives from Jeld-Wen could not be reached for comment due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Jeld-Wen has hired Architectural Design Works of Ashland for the project, but has asked them not to comment, said principal architect Jac Nickels.

The deadline to request a public hearing for phase one of the project is Dec. 3.

Ashland Daily Tidings staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456, Ext. 227, or jfrench@dailytidings.com.