Dawson Construction to purchase historic Armory from WWU

Dawson Construction, LLC is interested in purchasing the Armory from the Western Washington University Foundation. The Bellingham and Alaska-based company signed an option agreement with the school’s foundation to purchase the property, according to a press release put out by the school on Tuesday. The option is for 10 months to allow for a feasibility study.

As the deal is in the early stages, Dawson doesn’t have any specific plans for the building yet, said CFO Michael Bayless. Although he did say that one of the goals will be to try to restore the building.

The Armory building is on North State Street few blocks from campus. It was built in 1910 as a military training site, and was used by both the National Guard and the Army Reserve. Starting in 1953, it was used as a roller rink. In 1972, Western bought the building from National Guard for one dollar. The rink remained until 1989, and the school has been using the building for storage, as well as housing for the school theater department’s prop and scene shops.

In January, the school transferred ownership of the building to the WWU Foundation with the intent to find a buyer for the building.

“We believe that Dawson Construction’s experience with restoration projects will benefit development of future plans for the Armory,” Stephanie Bowers, president and CEO of the WWU Foundation, said in the release.

Dawson has been interested in the property for a few years, Bayless said. The construction company has been involved in many local restoration projects, including the Waples Building in Lynden and the Mount Baker Theatre Lounge.

The press release said that proceeds from the sale, the price of which was not disclosed, will benefit Western’s Compass 2 Campus program, which pairs Western student mentors with fifth-12th grade students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

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