Bellevue Healthcare of Whatcom County, a home medical equipment provider, purchased the Morse Hardware Building last month with plans to remodel the historic building into retail and warehouse spaces.
With three floors and 43,000 square feet now under its name, Bellevue Healthcare of Whatcom County is making a big debut in Bellingham. But buying and remodeling real estate is the company’s preferred model for expansion.
“Traditionally we’ve bought old warehouses and converted them to retail,” said Peter Norman, president and founder. “We try to buy most of our real estate.”
The company bought the historic building, built in 1896 and located at 1021, 1023 and 1025 N. State St., from downtown developer Bob Hall of Daylight Properties for $1.5 million. Furniture Now! is currently one of the tenants in that building.
And though the company has occupied the space since June 1, remodeling won’t begin for at least a year.
“We’ll start [remodeling] in the next 12 to 18 months,” Norman said, adding that he is working with RMC Architects to draft plans. “We’ll take our time making sure that whatever improvements we do are going to be good in the long term. We want to be here a long time.”
The Bellingham office is the fifth branch to open since the company started in Bellevue in 2000. The company has been expanding rapidly in the past few years and now has around 50 employees, with six here in Bellingham, and is close to launching another branch in Centralia. The company chose to expand to Bellingham after several employees expressed an interest in living here.
“We grow based on the people internally and where they have a desire to go,” Norman said.
But until the company completes a feasibility study for the remodel, it is operating out of the basement that faces the alley near Honey Moon, said regional manager Bryce Schaffner.
“Currently, the basement is our warehouse for most of our inventory,” Schaffner said. “It’s a temporary showroom. We’re hoping to have a permanent showroom on North State Street.”
Potential remodel plans include knocking out portions of the third floor to create a mezzanine retail space. Also, Bellevue Healthcare of Whatcom County is not planning to occupy the entire space, but will look for “like-minded businesses” to share the space, Shaffner said.
Besides the potential for retail, it was the warehouse space that really stood out to the company.
“We needed something that could encompass our needs for warehouse space, plus retail and office space,” he said. “We don’t run out of product or equipment so we have quite a bit of backstock.”
Find out more
Bellevue Healthcare of Whatcom County
1025 N. State St.