Today is the one-year anniversary of the devastating wildfire that burned Harbin Hot Springs to the ground. As they promised earlier this year, the Harbin community in Middletown is trying to reopen its hot and cold soaking pools by the end of the year, and the rebuilding effort continues despite a lack of adequate funding to completely replace all that was lost in last summer Valley Fire. The Chronicle picks up on the rebuilding effort, in which returning staff, some of whom have been living in communal housing in Middletown, are trying to "keep the quirk" as they reimagine and reconstruct a new Harbin.
The original resort dated back to the 19th Century and had in fact burned before, but not nearly as devastatingly as it did on September 12, 2015, burning both the oldest buildings on the property as well as those that have appeared since it became a new-age, clothing optional retreat in the 1970's.
An earlier, lengthy discussion that Harbin managing director Julie Adams had with SF Mag revealed plans to try to open up for at least bodywork earlier this year, but that has not occurred. Via the new Chronicle piece we learn that the resort only kept minimal insurance, and that the $10 million to $12 million insurance payout that they are still expecting from the fire will only cover a fraction of what needs to be rebuilt to return to its previous scope, in which it was home to 55 full-time residents, 240 seasonal employees, and tens of thousands of annual guests. The entirety of the damage is estimated at $60 million.
Adams isn't quoted in the new piece, though, and Eric Richardson is the only named managing director, who remains positive about the clean slate they're starting with, with just six of the original pools intact, and saying they'll be rebuilding a "modern and environmentally friendly campus" that will include a new modern pump house, six rebuilt pools and two new ones, and minimal infrastructure by year's end if all goes well, with a reopening for limited guests on New Year's Eve.
There are plans to build a dozen guest cottages next year, but beyond that the construction timeline is apparently "fuzzy" due to lack of funding. Guests who may, best case scenario, may be able to return to Harbin this winter will have to camp and eat from food trucks.
In the video below from the Chronicle, Richardson says, "We hope that folks will return and be patient with us as we grow."