Fairhaven shipyard to sail into the sunset

Padden Creek Marine, Inc., a Fairhaven shipyard that builds and repairs fiberglass pleasure boats, plans to close sometime this year, after 16 years of operation.
   The business was not making enough money, said general manager Chris Duppenthaler. The cost of oil-based products used to manufacture fiberglass boats doubled in the last two years, he said, and the rise in health-care costs also contributed to the company’s financial failure.
   Duppenthaler did not have an official date for the company’s last day.
   The business, located on Port of Bellingham-owned waterfront property at 809 Harris Ave., employed 25 workers at its peak but had to cut down to 10 in the last several years, Duppenthaler said.
   The owners have no plans to relocate the business.
   Jim Darling, executive director of the Port of Bellingham, said there has been interest in the site from similar businesses.
   “We will go out on the street for formal requests because there has been so much interest,” he said. “Whatever goes there will be a similar type of marine-related business.”

Kohl’s buys former Mervyn’s site
   After several months of speculation, it appears a Kohl’s department store is coming to Bellingham.
   According to information obtained from the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office, Kohl’s Department Stores Inc. this month purchased the former Mervyn’s location at Bellis Fair mall from MDS Realty II for $15 million.
   The purchase included the 76,458-square-foot store, its 750 square feet of mezzanine-level storage space and 5.93 acres of land.
   Bellis Fair spokeswoman Cara Buckingham referred questions about the arrival of the new department store to Kohl’s officials. Kohl’s executives did not return calls for comment.
   Kohl’s Corp., founded in 1962, is headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisc. The company operates more than 700 department stores, mostly in the Midwest, and sells men’s and women’s apparel, small electronics, bedding and luggage, among other things.

City names new planning and community development director
   Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmundson announced last month that Tim Stewart has been appointed director of the city’s Planning and Community Development Department.
   Stewart has an extensive planning background, including serving as the City of Shoreline’s first Planning and Development Services Director, after the city of more than 53,000 incorporated in 1995. He left Shoreline in September 2005 to serve as a visiting lecturer in land use and government decision making at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, where his wife, Rose, is teaching as a Fulbright Scholar.
   Stewart replaces former director Jorge Vega, who moved to Georgia this winter to be closer to family.
   Vega, an attorney from Texas, initially came to the city in May 2003 to serve as an assistant city attorney but was asked by city officials to lead the planning department, when they learned he had past management experience.
   During his tenure, Vega received an increasing amount of criticism for how the city was dealing with growth, and calls from some residents for a letter of “no confidence” in his leadership.
   In conducting a search for the new director, city officials consulted with City Council and Planning Commission members, community leaders and neighborhood representatives, and included them on candidate interview panels.
   The director of planning and community development reports to the mayor, serves as a member of the city’s executive management team, and manages the department’s 51 full-time staff members. The department is responsible for development review and regulation, comprehensive planning, environmental planning and resource protection, integrated development services, neighborhood projects, downtown services and city center development, tourism, housing and community development block grants.
   In addition to his work at the City of Shoreline, Stewart also worked for seven years as the director of planning for City of Lincoln/Lancaster County in Nebraska, held various planning positions in Fitchburg, Mass., and has taught planning courses at the University of Washington.
   Stewart will return to the U.S. next month. He will begin no later than May 22 and will be paid $106,128 per year.

Local businessmen purchase Sonny Foods building
   A waterfront fish-processing plant has been sold to a limited liability company, Gaston Bay Development, led by Windermere real estate agent Jeff Hopwood and local architect Dave Christensen.
   According to the sales agreement, obtained from the Port of Bellingham, Gaston Bay purchased the building at 2925 Roeder Ave. from Sonny Foods LLC for $525,000.
   The sale of the approximately 23,000-square-foot building, which is located on about .44 acre of land leased from the port, became possible last month after port commissioners approved the termination of a 10-year lease with Sonny Foods and approved a new 35-year lease, with options, with Gaston Bay.
   Christensen last month said LLC members were not ready to announce plans for the site.
   Port of Bellingham real estate director Lydia Bennett said the land is zoned heavy impact industrial. She believes Gaston Bay officials intend to remodel the building and potentially bring in a new marine-related business.

Downtown gallery takes its last breath
   Hand To Mouth Art Studios and Gallery, located at 205 E. Chestnut St., will close at the end of the month, after three years of showing local artists’ work.
   Owner Michelle Schutte said her landlord did not renew her lease and she cannot afford to rent another space downtown.
   “I was bummed because I just figured out how to make money, but I’m also kind of relieved because having gallery shows can get tiring,” she said.
   In addition to showing local and regional artists’ work, Schutte rented six studios and a darkroom in the space to artists. Schutte also ran her own design business from the space, which she will relocate to an office she rented in the Odd Fellows Hall on Holly Street.
   Chris Fuller, a Bellingham photographer, will show his photos documenting the 3B Tavern’s last days until the gallery closes.
   Fred Schacht, owner of the building, is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

New view offices nearly complete in Fairhaven
   Some new offices with choice views of Bellingham Bay, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal and Greenways trails are about to become available.
   After several months of searching for a new tenant, after The Wool Station moved out, John Hauter, owner of Fairhaven Bike & Mountain Sports, has decided to turn the second floor of his building at 1108 11th St. into office spaces.
   “I think Fairhaven is really a prime spot for view office spaces,” Hauter said. “It’s a great place to have an office, because of the number of restaurants and the ambiance of the area. My prediction is that with the amount of new condos in Fairhaven, some of these people working out of their condos may want more space, and to get out of their living places to work.”
   Hauter, who’s been serving as contractor for the project, said three spaces are being created in the old Wool Station location.
   A 310-square-foot space will be the new home for Christensen Design Management.
   Yet to be leased are an 843-square-foot location ($1,840/month) and a 557-square-foot space ($1,420/month).
   The two spaces, Hauter said, will have amenities such as electricity, heat and Internet paid for, and share a 500-square-foot conference room. The locations should be ready for occupancy in a few weeks.
   For more information, contact Hauter at 305-0127.

Whatcom Community College to buy Multop Financial building
   Whatcom Community College will likely be holding classes in the Multop Financial Team building in coming years.
   College President Harold Heiner said last month that the Whatcom Community College Foundation, an adjunct to the college, has reached an agreement with Multop building owners to purchase the 19,000-square-foot structure and adjacent parking lot, located at 333 Calluna Court, for about $2.4 million.
   “It’s useful now, because we’re always looking for space, and the college is growing,” Heiner said. “In the long run the college will be expanding, and we’re running out of land around here.”
   In addition to the Multop Financial building, Heiner said the college will also be acquiring two adjacent parcels of vacant land, for a combined total of approximately 1.5 acres of new property. The cost of the additional land purchases was not immediately available.
   Along with the Multop Financial Team, Michael’s Business Machines and Cordata Dental are also located in the building.
   “(The tenants) are welcome to stay as long as they’d like but, in the long run, we expect them to reevaluate their situations because it will likely not be a business-park atmosphere in the future,” Heiner said.
   Melanie Multop, office manager at Multop Financial, said the building’s group of owners had always viewed the location as an investment opportunity and believed now was a good time to sell.
   The deal, she said, should be finalized next month.
   In the next several years, she said, Multop Financial will likely try to purchase another piece of property in the Cordata area and build a new headquarters for the company on it.
   In the near future, Heiner said, the Whatcom Community College Foundation has plans to move its offices into the Multop Financial building, and the college may hold classes there.
   Currently, he said, the college is also considering purchasing other property adjacent or near the campus, to prepare for more growth.

Bornstein’s hauls in new Oregon location
   Bornstein Seafoods’ Astoria, Ore., division is getting ready to move to a new location.
   According to a recent edition of PortWays, a newsletter published by the Port of Astoria, Bornstein Seafoods is relocating its Astoria plant to a new facility at the port’s Pier 2, at its central waterfront location.
   A new 34,000-square-foot fish-processing plant and 12,000-square-foot cold-storage facility, paid for, in part, through an $11 million financing commitment from the Oregon Economic & Community Development Department, are scheduled to be completed this spring.
   Astoria port officials cited in the article said the new plant is a positive sign for the seafood industry and local economic development. The new facility will allow Astoria to retain 100 Bornstein jobs in the community and add at least 12 more.
   In addition to upgraded facilities, the new Astoria plant could house a Seafood Education Center, where visitors could watch live seafood processing and learn about the importance of the fishing industry in coastal communities. The Seafood Education Center could serve as a tourist attraction, complementing the nearby Tillamook Cheese Factory.
   Jay Bornstein, owner of Bellingham-based Bornstein Seafoods, did not be return calls for comment.
   Bornstein’s, one of the major bottom-fish processors on the Pacific Coast, operates 11 facilities in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Local health club pumps up offerings
   The owners of Ferndale’s Everyday Fitness, which opened in 2004, opened a Blaine location last month.
   Co-owner Josh Lehman, a local real estate agent, and former regional manager for Gold’s Gym in Utah, said Blaine, a small town with an older population, is a prime market for Everyday Fitness’ services.
   “When we look at demographics, we like to be in smaller communities, and we have a more mature audience, with average ages being about 50 or 55. And Blaine is a good market because it’s booming,” he said.
   The new health club, located at 1733 H St., suite 850, in the former Radio Shack location, will feature typical training equipment, such as cardio machines and free and stationary weights.
   “What makes us different is we do a lot of personal, small-group training,” Lehman said. “We’ve found great success with working with small groups of four to six people. It helps build friendships and teams.”
   In addition, said Lehman, Everyday Fitness, which charges $29.95 a month for membership, aims to introduce people to new recreational activities. In the past, the club has organized outings like hikes, snowshoeing and kayak trips.
   “We try to make it more of a lifestyle change,” he said. “We try to educate our members to the best of our ability.”
   With the new location, Lehman said, Everyday Fitness will likely be hiring six to eight new employees, such as trainers, yoga instructors and membership consultants.
   For more information on Everyday Fitness, go to www.everydayfitnessinc.com or contact 380-4405.

Attorney: Port not legally obligated to build marina
   The Bellingham Bay Foundation (BBF) this month released a legal opinion that refutes the notion that the port and city are legally obligated to construct a new downtown marina.
   According to the legal opinion of Bricklin, Newman and Dold, LLP, a Seattle firm specializing in land-use and environmental law, the city is under no legal obligation to support a marina.
   The opinion was sought by the BBF in response to comments made by port legal counsel Frank Chmelik at a March 7 joint City Council/port commission meeting, in which, reportedly, Chmelik told council members they were legally obligated to support construction of a new marina in the former Georgia-Pacific wastewater-treatment lagoon.
   Bricklin, who reviewed documents pertaining to the purchase and sale agreement between the port and Georgia-Pacific and interlocal agreement between the port and city regarding the “New Whatcom Special Development Area,” found:
   • “Neither the Purchase and Sale Agreement nor the threat of condemnation provide any support for a claim that the Port is obligated to utilize the ASB site for a public marina.”
   • “The Port and the City recognized when they drafted the Agreement that they were simply launching a process that will develop a plan for the Georgia Pacific property and that, ultimately, the Bellingham City Council will need to take legislative action to decide whether to implement that plan or not.”
   • “There are no binding commitments in the Interlocal Agreement regarding specific site layout and, indeed, there could not legally be such commitments in this document because there was no SEPA review and because there has been no amendment of the City’s land use plan and regulations.”
   In recent months, the BBF has opposed the port’s plan of turning the lagoon into a new marina and has suggested turning the site into a new park instead.
   “The legal history of this issue is very clear,” said BBF executive director James Johnston. “The decisions haven’t been made yet, instead it’s still up to the City Council to decide whether there will be a marina.”
   Despite the Seattle firm’s legal opinion, Port of Bellingham executive director Jim Darling said the ultimate use of the lagoon will be decided by policy makers, and port commissioners have stated their support of a marina.
   “A marina makes good sense for the community,” he said, citing, among other things, demand for moorage, an opportunity to restore habitat, economic-development opportunities and maintaining a tie to Bellingham’s marine heritage.

Sudden Valley real estate office expands
   RE/MAX Whatcom County has expanded services at its Sudden Valley office earlier this month, by adding two office spaces and three agents.
   Lori Reece, co-owner and broker of RE/MAX Whatcom County, said she needed to increase her office space by 50 percent after recruiting agents Sheila Walls and George Fedecky from Sun-Mark Properties and adding recently licensed agent Carmen Andrews to her staff.
   She hired the new agents as an opportunity to add talented members to her staff, Reece said, but the expansion does not reflect a surge in Sudden Valley real estate action.
   The three will work out of the new offices located in suites B2 and B5 in the Sudden Valley Village Shopping Center at 1941 Lake Whatcom Blvd. The new offices use the same parking lot as RE/MAX’s current office, located at 1937 Lake Whatcom Blvd.

Hollywood veteran brings ‘Stars’ to town
   A veteran of the Hollywood film industry opened a Bellingham storefront for his production company, Sound Images, last month.
   From the new store, at 2833 Meridian St., Harry Moreau and his wife, Susan, are offering a unique photographic portrait product.
   The new product, “ToonStars,” blends personal photographs taken at Sound Images with fantasy backgrounds and props.
   “With ToonStars, we can produce humorous and whimsical photographs,” Harry Moreau said. “A child can be depicted as flying an airplane, riding a dirt bike, jumping off a diving board or sitting with Santa Claus. Adults have choices such as waterskiing and sitting in an electric chair.”
   Prints are available from wallet-size photos to posters.
   In addition to ToonStars, Sound Images offers graphic-design services, such as producing business logos, letterheads, business cards and print advertisements. The business also features copying services and takes passport photos.
   “You won’t find clip art in our studio — all of my work is hand-drawn,” Moreau said.
   Moreau, who moved to Bellingham with his wife four years ago, has 30 years of experience in producing special effects for movies, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Titanic,” “Cast Away” and “Moulin Rouge.” He also has designed and animated characters for movies and commercials.
   Prior to launching Sound Images in 1991, Moreau supervised the animated effects department at a Hollywood studio for 15 years.

Local resort under new ownership
   Wildwood Resort, located on 15 acres along the shores of Lake Whatcom, was sold recently for $2.2 million, according to the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office.
   Lake Whatcom Resort Partnership purchased the resort from Cedar Meadow Properties, LLC. Officials with both groups could not be located for comment. The resort, according to its Web site, does not open until April 21.
   According to the property transaction, Wildwood Resort, located at 990 Lake Whatcom Boulevard South, Sedro-Woolley, features a convenience store, house, five cabins, 121 RV spaces and 1,550 feet of shorefront.
   For more information on the resort, got to www.wildwood-resort.net.

Seattle Internet
   company to log into Bellingham
   A Seattle tech company is planning to relocate to Bellingham soon.
   Peter Ireland, senior partner with Digital Caravans, LLC, which builds online communities and marketplaces, and provides business support to startups, said he anticipates moving the company here next month.
   With the move to Bellingham, Caravans, which has launched several business-focused Web sites in recent years, such as startupjunkies.org and antiventurecapital.com, plans to get back to its basics and focus on efforts that will help people become more self-sufficient as the world’s petroleum and fossil fuels decrease.
   “We figured Bellingham is going to be a good place to base the operation, because there are a lot of people interested in this area we’re covering — becoming self-sufficient as much as possible,” Ireland said.
   The company’s latest Web site, www.karavans.com, focuses largely on the looming “Peak Oil” situation — the petroleum industry’s term for the point on the global production curve when total oil production begins to decline.
   Karavans.com aims to be a hub in planning for a future less dependent on oil and disseminating new ideas, information, tools and techniques to interested parties.
   Ireland said the three-person company has not yet selected a Bellingham location but will likely be looking for office space in Fairhaven.
   For more information on the company, go to www.karavans.com or contact 360-421-4665.

WWU to host job fair
   Western Washington University is inviting job seekers to its Spring Career Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 27, in the Viking Union Multipurpose Room.
   The event, sponsored by the WWU Career Services Center, is a major recruiting opportunity where students and the general public can meet hiring managers from a broad range of private-sector companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
   Admission to the fair is free.
   Participating employers include: Homax Products, Safeway, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, St. Joseph Hospital, Suncadia, Youth Connection AmeriCorps program, Washington State Department of Revenue, YMCA camps and many more.
   Job seekers are asked to bring resumes, research the companies in advance and dress in business attire.


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