Bellingham planning director resigns


   Bellingham planning and community development director Jorge Vega submitted his resignation this week, after two years on the job.
   Vega and his wife, Sarah, will move to Georgia in December to be close to her family.
   Vega, who has been at the center of community debate about growth issues, said his resignation is not due to pressure from the community.
   “Jorge filled an important role during a critical time in our community, and I am grateful for his leadership,” Mayor Mark Asmundson said.
   Asmundson also credited Vega for addressing growth planning needs and launching the city’s one-stop permit center. The department also began the process of developing a Single Unified Development Code.
   Vega’s resignation is effective December 15. Greg Aucutt, a senior planner, will serve as interim director until Vega’s replacement is found.

Landlubber going out of business
   After nearly 30 years in business, Penny Beebe will close Landlubber Mercantile Dec. 1.
   The six-employee retail store, which carries gifts, cards, soaps and accessories, among other things, has been at 1322 Cornwall Ave. for five years. Since opening in Birch Bay in 1976, it’s also been located in Discovery Park and Sunset Square. There was also a second Landlubber location in Lynden in the early 1980s.
   “It’s been so much fun. I’ve met some many people over the years,” said Beebe. “I have no regrets, I just want to do something that’s a little more part-time.”
   Beginning Friday, all items at the store will be 25 percent off, and fixtures, antiques and display props will be up for sale.
   Beebe said she plans to spend more time with her part-time business, Re-Fresh, working on interior redesigns in homes and offices. For more information contact 371-7200.

Birch Bay Waterslides not coming down
   Word has been circulating lately that Homestead NW, which recently closed on the 14-acre Birch Bay Waterslides location at 4874 Birch Bay Lynden Rd., will be tearing the waterslides down.
   Not true, said Lisa Guthrie, manager of operations at Homestead.
   “The slides are staying,” she said. “We will be reconfiguring a few of them. The main slides will stay and stay in a public format.”
   At the site, Guthrie said, Homestead is planning a fitness center, pool, approximately 200 condo units and retail space.
   In addition, she said, Little Caesars Pizza will be staying. “There’s room for, and we’re interested in, more food services, a coffee shop, bank and standalone restaurants,” she said.
   More detailed plans will likely be released in a few months.

Massage Associates on the move
   Massage Associates, owned by Becky Masters and Lori Thompson, recently moved to a larger Bellingham office in the Harborview Building, at 1111 W. Holly St., Suite F.
   The move enabled Massage Associates to add a third licensed massage practitioner, Jeneen Durand. The firm is now seeking another health-care professional to further utilize its additional space.
   Masters and Thompson each have 10 years of professional experience, after graduating from the Seattle Massage School. They combined to create Massage Associates, located previously at 1846 Iron St., in 2001.
   For more information on the business and its expansion, contact 671-2713.

Sisters to reopen family business
   A longtime family business will reopen soon.
   Susie O’Connor and Kathy Hillard, owners of Carol’s Girls Catering, plan on closing their catering business at 5415 Mount Baker Highway next month and reopening it in December as Carol’s Girls Café.
   Before O’Connor and Hillard started their catering company five years ago, their parents, Bill and Carol Vander Yacht, operated Carol’s Coffee Cup in the same Deming location for 27 years. The diner was popular among locals and skiers and known for its burgers, cinnamon rolls and homemade pies.
   O’Connor said stiff competition from larger companies and a hectic work schedule were among the reasons for deciding to close the catering company.
   The new diner the sisters plan on opening will have homemade breakfast and lunch fare and a drive-up area for lattes, O’Connor said. The restaurant will seat about 30 people and have a deck in the summers. Hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.
   In the next few months, said O’Connor, she’ll likely be hiring several employees, including cooks, wait staff and a barista.

C-Shop staying put
   Patrick Alesse, co-owner of The C-Shop in Birch Bay, called The Bellingham Business Journal last week to quell rumors that he and his wife had sold their store to developers.
   There is a development going in next to The C-Shop, he said, but it is unrelated to their business.

Bookseller meets end
   Officials with The Book Warehouse in Custer’s Birch Bay Square (formerly the Peace Arch Factory Outlet) have announced the business will close Oct. 23.
   According to information store managers provided The Bellingham Business Journal last month, the close-out bookseller opened in 2000 and had five employees. With more than 50,000 books, The Book Warehouse was one of Whatcom County’s largest bookstores.
   Company officials did not return calls for comment.
   Brian Finnegan, leasing agent for Birch Bay Square, said the store’s lease was up at the end of this month.

Print shop opens on Northwest Avenue
   Robert Carr, a Whidbey Island native with more than 15 years’ experience in the copying business, this month opened his own print shop, Poor Rob’s Copy and Design, at 3201 Northwest Ave.
   Carr, 41, who’s lived in Bellingham since 1995, said he’s always wanted to open his own shop. Services at the store include: color copying, bindery, business card and form design, faxing, and Fed-Ex and DHL delivery.
   For more information, contact 527-0551.

WECU to expand on Holly Street
   Whatcom Educational Credit Union has submitted plans with the city for a new building at 515 E. Holly St.
   The building, said WECU assistant vice president Robert Langei, will be a two-story, 9,000-square-foot real estate and loan center.
   “We’re building it because those areas of the credit union are growing,” Langei said.
   The building, expected to cost around $2.8 million, is being designed by Zervas Group Architects. Pearson Construction has been selected as the general contractor.
   Langei said groundbreaking for the building will depend on when the city approves WECU’s building application. If all goes well, he said, the new building should be open by next fall.

Hey there, Georgie Girls
   Georgie Girls, established by Dianna Guevara and her three daughters, Rheanna, Lindi and Erica, opened this month at 1421 Cornwall Ave.
   The female-fashions store features a wide range of clothing and jewelry. Georgie Girls can be reached at 676-1110.

Bjerke to spin a yarn
   Nancy Bjerke, known locally as a staff member at Pacific Continental Realty, and for her weekly knitting and spinning classes, among other things, will open Northwest Handspun Yarns next month.
   Moving into the 1,400-square-foot Douglas Building, at 1401 Commercial St., Bjerke will be able to expand class offerings.
   “We are adding weaving classes,” said Bjerke, who plans to open Nov. 12. “We also will provide yarns, natural and chemical dyes, fibers for spinning and felting, and a large book collection, plus equipment such as spinning wheels, looms and drumcarders.”
   Northwest Handspun Yarns will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information contact 738-0167 or www.nwhandspunyarns.com.

Telegraph Road business closes
   Due to downsizing, iTek Corporation (The Fourth R of Whatcom County) is closing operations at its Learning/Testing Center at 301 Telegraph Rd., according to the company’s Web site.
   Because of the closure, Prometric testing will no longer be available at the site and all other testing there will be discontinued.
   The Fourth R, an information-technology training business, opened in Bellingham in June, 1997; local company officers Sandy and Vic Kiel could not be reached for comment.

Former B&B owner takes over hair salon
   Longtime hairstylist and entrepreneur Susan Neuman has opened her own Bellingham salon.
   The Bellingham resident last month took over the lease at 310 E. Magnolia St., the former Special FX location, where she had been working as a stylist for about a year-and-a-half.
   Neuman has since changed the name of the shop to Magnolia Street Salon, but noted she hasn’t changed signage at the location yet. Inside, she said, she’s made some changes to the location to make it a more quiet and comfortable atmosphere.
Prior to moving to Bellingham about 30 years ago, Neuman operated a full-service boutique in Seattle, on Queen Anne Hill.
   After moving to Bellingham, she opened A Secret Garden Bed & Breakfast, which she sold about two years ago. Since then, she’s worked at the Upper Cut Salon and Special FX.
  Neuman said she opened her own shop again because she missed running her own business.
   “I love what I do,” she said.
   The two-person salon, she said, will be strictly hair styling and open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

ICU to open Lynden location
   Industrial Credit Union (ICU) announced plans Friday to open a branch in Lynden at 8170 Guide Meridian, in the Lynden Towne Plaza.
   The branch, ICU’s sixth in Whatcom County, will be open by early December, said Matt Vance, ICU’s marketing coordinator.
   The new location will feature a full range of financial services, including a walk-up ATM, safety deposit boxes and night depository. The Lynden branch will also be the second ICU branch to feature “shared branching,” a partnership with more than 1,100 member credit unions, which allows members to conduct transactions at other shared branching credit unions.

Bellevue firm opens Bellingham branch
   Bellevue-based Washington Asset Management last month opened a Bellingham branch in the Gateway Center at 1313 E. Maple St.
   The financial services firm will be managed by Bellingham resident Richard W. Zagelow, who’s managed both corporate and individual accounts at Dain Bosworth, Key Bank and Morgan Stanley.
   Washington Asset Management offers securities through The Concord Equity Group LLC. For more information on the new branch, contact 685-4210.

Coffeehouse hopes to be community hub
   A Bellingham man wants to capture the spirit of the old Stuart’s Coffee House when he opens Three Tree Coffeehouse downtown in the next few weeks.
   Mitchell Senti, 26, will be opening his coffeehouse at 118 W. Holly St. in the former JQ Flowers location, between the Sportsman Chalet and Bandito’s Burritos.
   Different from most coffee shops, Senti’s venture will be a non profit coffee shop, loosely affiliated with many Christian churches in town.
   “There won’t be an evangelistic agenda,” Senti said, “it’s more just being a positive place in the community.”
   Senti said the coffee shop will host frequent life-skills workshops, discussions, and musical events, all free of charge. The shop will carry traditional coffeehouse drinks and bakery items.

Purple Smile coming to Fairhaven
   Jeff Wicklund, a longtime wine connoisseur, known regionally for starting Wick-Ed Cellars in Everett, and writing an occasional column, “Wick on Wine,” in The (Everett) Herald, has decided to open a new wine shop in Fairhaven.
   Wicklund, along with his wife, Edalyn, plans to open Purple Smile Wines, in the new Fairhaven Gardens development on 11th Street. He hopes to have the shop open by Nov. 1.
   “In the past 25 years, there’s just been an explosion of cataclysmic proportions (in the wine industry) and now we have a huge industry that needs to have qualified people on the front lines being the conduit between the industry and consumers,” Wicklund said. “We’re going to have some fun with it. Had I opened with pretentiousness in Everett, they would’ve strung me up. We’ll have a lot of whimsy here.”
   Wicklund, who’ll be in a 900-square-foot location at 1143 11th St., plans to carry several hundred labels, in various price ranges, have tastings, and bring in winemakers from around the state.

Local businessmen buy Fed Ex building
   The former Federal Express building has been bought from the Port of Bellingham by SIS Flight LLC.
   The transaction became possible last month after port commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to surplus the building.
   SIS Flight LLC, which includes Steve Scott and Tek Construction owners Dean Irwin and Will Scott, plans to pay $300,000 for the 9,000-square-foot building at 4167 Airport Way and enter into a 30-year lease agreement with the port. The group also plans to spend about $100,000 to convert the building from air-cargo use to general aviation use.
   Irwin said the group would also like to double the size of the current building.
SIS Flight, which owns five small aircraft, plans to turn the building’s warehouse into hangar space and relocate Tek’s headquarters there. Tek, which has five employees, is currently located at 2723 Douglas Rd. in Ferndale.
   Irwin told port commissioners that Tek does work throughout the region and the new building and hangar space will allow the company to fly employees to job sites.
Steve Scott said he’d like to begin tenant improvements to the building in the next few months and have Tek moved in by some time next year.
   The building, built by the port in the late 1980s, has been vacant for two years, since Fed Ex moved to a new facility at the north end of the airport.

Western plans Academic Instructional Center
   Western Washington University plans to begin construction of a $51.4 million building in March.
   The new building, the Academic Instructional Center at Western Washington University, will be around 120,000 square feet and house the communications sciences and disorders and psychology departments, as well as classrooms, lecture halls, computer labs and a collaborative learning center, according to university officials.
   The building will be located on the south end of campus near the Communications Facility. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2008.

Fish on in Fairhaven
   In Fairhaven, it appears Brian Tines, owner of the Royal Inn and Fairhaven Pub and Martini Bar, is proceeding with his plans to open a seafood restaurant at the former Fairhaven Bob’s Burgers and Brew location.
   Recent Whatcom County liquor license applications showed Tines has applied to assume a license to sell spirits, beer and wine at 1304 12th St. The new business name for the location is being dubbed “The Big Fat Fish.”

Mork moving to Bellingham?
   In a recent edition of the Seattle alternative newsmagazine The Stranger, a reader reported in the paper’s Celebrity I Saw U section that (actor) “Robin Williams was looking for ‘vacation’ property in Bellingham.”
   Good Will Hunting fans, “How ya like them apples?”

Venerable North Forest venue to expand this winter
   The Majestic on North Forest, a historic building known locally for its dance academy and as a venue for weddings, music, dance and drama events, could soon also be home to a dance club.
   Azita Simler, a manager at The Majestic, said the growth of the facility’s dance academy, U&Me Dance, has prompted the need for expansion.
   Tentative plans, she said, are to add an additional 1,500 to 2,000 square feet to the building’s 4,400 square feet of meeting space. The additional space at the 1027 N. Forest St. location could potentially house a “bistro/club setting or dance club for rental.”
   Simler estimates renovations and additions will likely not exceed $20,000, and the majority of work will be completed within the next six months.
    A committee of dance students will help decide the design and direction of the dance club, Simler said. A general contractor has yet to be selected for the project.

Frontier finds Lynden location
   Frontier Bank last month opened its third Whatcom County location at 8108 Guide Meridian, in the Lynden Towne Plaza.
   Longtime Whatcom banker and Lynden City Councilman Jerry Kuiken will serve as the branch’s vice president and manager; Rose Browning, another longtime Whatcom banker will be its operations officer.
   McCarthy said the branch will have about five employees and offer a full range of services.
   While Frontier had been considering expanding in Whatcom for some time, Barbara McCarthy, the bank’s senior vice president and marketing director, said the availability of Kuiken, previously with Banner Bank, was among the reasons for doing so now.
   “We wanted to increase our footprint in Whatcom County, and when we can attract a banker who knows the community so well, it prompts us to move ahead,” she said.
Frontier’s Lynden branch will be the bank’s 41st location, and it’s most northern. The Snohomish County-based bank has been in business 27 years.
   McCarthy said the Guide Meridian location will likely be a temporary site. However, she did not know when Frontier would be seeking a permanent Lynden location.

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