Financial problems resurface at eatery

    It appears the Marina Restaurant hasn’t escaped its financial problems.
    A recent legal notice announced LPSL Corporate Services, Inc. will hold a trustee’s sale at 11 a.m., Jan. 27, at the Whatcom County Courthouse, in which the leasehold interest in the restaurant will be sold at public auction to the highest bidder.
    According to the legal notice, restaurant owner John Arntsen owes more than $900,000, including loan payments, taxes and principal due to Washington Mutual.
    Early last year, Arntsen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but his case was dismissed last month. Prior to filing for bankruptcy, which protected the business from creditors while it underwent reorganization, the restaurant had been scheduled to be auctioned off. Arntsen did not return calls for comment.

Pub, bistro going in former
La Piñata site

    An eatery and watering hole will soon be new neighbors on Commercial Street.
    After 10 years of traveling, former Bellingham resident Molly McGarry, 27, has returned to town and plans to open Uische next month at 1319 Commercial St., in the former La Piñata location.
    McGarry, who’s worked previously in an Irish bar, and whose boyfriend is originally from Dublin and has 17 years of experience working in pubs, plans to offer numerous European drafts, such as Guinness, Bass, Harp, Stella Artois, Pilsner Urquell and Newcastle Brown Ale.
    Uische, which translate to “water” in Irish Gaelic, would be among the few Irish pubs in area.
    “We’re really excited to be coming back in the area because there’s so much growth downtown,” McGarry said.
    McGarry said she’s also pleased to be opening around the same time as her new next-door neighbors, Magnolia’s Bistro and Bar.
    Magnolia’s owners, Cameron Morris and David Burdette, who are relocating to Bellingham from Dallas, Tex., where they operated a restaurant, hope to be open by March.
    The bistro, Morris said, will feature American and European comfort food.

Hou$ing price$ up again
around county

    Another year of strong demand and low interest rates kept home prices climbing, according to Lylene Johnson of The Muljat Group South office in Fairhaven.
    Johnson analyzed data from the Bellingham-Whatcom County Multiple Listing Service and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service to calculate comprehensive statistics for local communities.
    The average sales price of a home in Bellingham during 2005 was $327,825, up 23 percent. That increase followed a 13-percent hike in 2004.
Other communities also finished 2005 with strong increases in the average price of a home for a second consecutive year:
    • Lynden – 2005, $316,486, up 25 percent.
    • Ferndale – 2005, $292,391, up 23 percent.
    • Sudden Valley – 2005, $272,383, up 22 percent.
    • Blaine/Birch Bay – 2005, $281,440, up 23 percent.
    “Long-term interest rates are still very good and actually declined throughout December,” Johnson said. “However, some buyers may be impacted by the rise in short-term rates for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).”

Boutique coming
to Fairhaven

    Danielle Starr is planning to open a new business, Four Starrs Boutique, in Fairhaven by March.
    Starr, who has worked in the home decor and retail industry for several years, said it was finally time to start her own venture. The 725-square-foot boutique will be located at 910 Harris Ave. Space #104, which is in the courtyard of that building.
    Starr said she hopes to create a “city feel” for the boutique, which she will run alone.
    The items sold in the shop will be hand-picked by Starr and offer unique styles for customers. She said her ability to shop will not only allow her to sell distinctive items, but also offer good prices to customers.
    The boutique will have clothes, handbags, jewelry and a beauty bar.
    Starr said the new shop will not cater to just one demographic or style, but rather aim to serve all women.

Insurance company
moves to Iowa Street

A longtime local insurance company has moved to a new location.
    Brunhaver & Brunhaver Insurance, formerly located at 1616 Cornwall Ave., is now located in an office in the Iowa Business Center, at 1738 Iowa St.
    A company spokesman said the new location presents a good opportunity for the business, but declined to elaborate.
    There will be no changes in staffing or operations for the company, which was founded here in 1911.

Construction begins
on medical building

    Preparations for a new neuroscience medical building recently began at 710 Birchwood Ave.
    The new project, which is currently in the land excavation phase, is estimated to cost $2.8 million, according to a permit issued by the City of Bellingham.
    The new two-story building, being built by Wellman & Zuck Construction, will be a facility focused on the neuroscience of the spine, said Kristie Judd, executive assistant at the construction company. She did not disclose the square footage of the project.
    Judd said doctors from Fourth Corner Neurosurgical Associates Inc., currently located at 2940 Squalicum Parkway, will move into the building upon completion.
    A completion date has not been projected, but Judd said construction will take at least one year.

Robinson Hardwood
heading to Grant St.

    Robinson Hardwood & Homes, a hardwood floor and new home construction company, is planning to move into a new location at 2110 Grant St. by the end of this month.
    According to David Dunham, supervising manager at the company, interior work on the company’s new building is currently wrapping up.
    The company’s owner, Neal Robinson, who was not available for comment, wanted to own a building after leasing a space at 2116 Queen St. for about five years, Dunham said.
    The cost and details of the new building were not available.
    Dunham believes the new business park location will increase business.
    In addition, he said, the company plans to build two more buildings at the location in the near future. He did not mention the size or features of the new buildings, but said they will be used for storage and/or leased out.

Ugurlu to open
second gelato shop

    The BBJ’s 2004 Business Person of the Year is on the move again, this time with plans of opening another gelato shop and possibly selling one of his restaurants.
    Following the successful summer opening of his Italian ice cream shop, Sirena, in Fairhaven, the 60-year-old said last month he’ll be opening a second gelato store this March in Barkley Village, at the former Walker’s Healthy Pet location.
    “It’s only been a few months since we opened in Fairhaven, but the peoples’ response to this product has been great,” Ugurlu said. “That’s what really motivated us.”
    Ugurlu said the Barkley Village store will have around 10 part-time employees and be managed by his son, Brian, who also operates the Fairhaven location.
    Because of Sirena’s success, Ugurlu is considering opening more gelato stores around the Puget Sound region, possibly licensing his gelato concept to individual storeowners.
    To finance the plan, Ugurlu said he would likely sell his Fairhaven restaurant, Coppa.
    “I’m considering selling it,” he said.
    Ugurlu, who also operates the Harborside Bistro at the Hotel Bellwether, said he is currently exploring the possibility of opening another gelato shop in Bellevue, Redmond or Issaquah. He also may seek to establish a central gelato-distribution center in the Seattle area.

Waldron Building
to feature condos

    After more than 30 years of being dormant, a historic Fairhaven building is about to experience a rebirth of activity.
    Developer David Ebenal, who’s recently completed several other Fairhaven projects, has plans to renovate the four-story Waldron Building, at 1308 12th St., with space for condos and retail shops, said real estate agent Pete Coy of The Muljat Group, who’s serving as the building’s leasing agent.
    An undetermined number of condos, said Coy, will be built on the top floors and be between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet. Retail shops will go on the ground floor. Prices and floor plans for the units have yet to be determined.
    Before renovations can be completed, Coy said, a new steel frame will have to be built inside the building and attached to its brick façade, to make it earthquake-proof. Ebenal, owner of Ebenal General Construction, will serve as developer and general contractor for the project.
    Fairhaven developer Ken Imus, who owned the Waldron Building for more than 30 years, said the structure dates to the 1890s. The location has been vacant since approximately 1974, he said, when the Kulshan Tavern closed.
    The building has also housed a bank and temporary housing units, he said.
    While Imus said there was never a market for the building while he owned it, current project officials say Fairhaven’s booming and the Waldron Building is in a prime location, near eateries, a grocery store and shops.
    “It’s certainly an attractive building and I think many people were fearful it would be torn down,” Coy said. “I think many people will be happy to hear it’s being restored. It’s a real landmark in Fairhaven.”
    In addition to renovations at the Waldron Building, Ebenal will also be constructing another structure, the Young Building, adjacent to it, Coy said. The new building will be located in the parking lot west of the Waldron Building and stretch to the corner of McKenzie Avenue and 11th Street.

AMPCO heads
to Haskell biz park

    Ampco USA, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Ampco Manufacturers Inc. is in the process of moving its office to Haskell Business Park in Bellingham.
    The business decided to move because its former space in Ferndale was underutilized, said operations manager Steve Rainwater.
    According to Rainwater, only about 2,500 square feet of the 10,000 square feet at the old facility was in use, so a move made sense when the company’s lease expired this December.
    The manufacturing and durable-graphics company will have about 3,300 square feet at the new location, where its three employees will distribute rubber products, made in Canada, to Paccar Inc., maker of big-rig trucks under the brand names Peterbilt and Kenworth.
    The new location at 1405 Fraser St. is ideal, because it is in between the company’s Canadian corporate office and Paccar Incorporated’s corporate offices in Bellevue, said Rainwater.

Physical therapy center
on the move

    A busy physical therapy center is moving into new digs.
    Lynden Family Physical Therapy, which has been at 1812 18th St. since it opened in 1997, will likely be moving into a new building at 1824 Front St. by this summer, said founder Steve Korthuis, one of the office’s three physical therapists.
    “It’s a good time for us to make a move,” he said. “We’ve been renting for nine years, its time to start paying ourselves rent.”
    The new location, to be built by Lynden’s Strengholt Construction, will be a 5,000-square-foot, one-level building. The project’s estimated cost is $1.2 million, Korthuis said.
    Lynden Family Physical Therapy, which has nine employees and serves more than 30 patients a day, will occupy about 3,200 square feet and rent the remaining space, he said.
   The project will likely break ground this month and be completed by June, Korthuis said.

Birch Bay condo project delayed
   A 59-unit Birch Bay condo project, originally scheduled for completion last fall, is several months behind schedule.
   The Sandcastle at Birch Bay, a Goldstar Resorts development at 7866 Birch Bay Dr., which broke ground last January, has hit several setbacks and will likely not be fully operational until the end of March, project officials said.
   Bill Grant, president of Goldstar Resorts, said inclement weather last winter delayed the pouring of concrete, while other work was halted this summer after Native American remains and artifacts were discovered at the site.
   State, local and tribal officials, he said, spent several weeks at the project this summer overseeing proper removal of the findings.
   Currently, said Grant, construction crews are putting finishing touches on the project with ground-floor retail space and exterior work anticipated to be finished by the end of the month.


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