Plan to use building to host the Bellingham Athletic Club is now
officially on the skids
It’s back to the drawing board for the former Home Base building.
The 105,000-square-foot building on E. Bellis Fair Parkway that had been slated as the new location for the Bellingham Athletic Club is currently for lease.
The building was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by BAC Owner Cathy Buckley and Dr. Norman Chang in July 2003 for $3.21 million, and the original plan was to build a 70,000-square-foot BAC facility that included two swimming pools, a full-size gym, racquetball and squash courts, and exercise studios. The rest of the building was to be filled with tenants in the fitness and health businesses, such as a salon, spa, physical therapist, nutritionist and a martial arts organization.
As planning for the project got under way, however, legal issues between Buckley and Chang developed, putting a halt to the project. Within the past month, for-lease signs have been posted.
Buckley and Chang did not immediately respond to messages left at press time. When contacted by The Bellingham Business Journal in October 2004 as the legal issues began surfacing, Buckley said she hoped to work through the problems, but if they didn’t, she would consider building her own facility.
“Either way, a new facility will be built,” Buckley said in October. “I am committed to the expansion of the BAC.”
Buckley sold the club’s current building on 4191 Meridian St. in the summer of 2004, but she has been able to keep the facility in that location through a lease agreement with the owners of the facility.
The leasing agent for the former Home Base building is Brian Finnegan, owner of WestCom Properties. Finnegan said he has had some interest in the building, but nothing concrete at this point.
“There are several different ways to handle this building. It can either go to a sole tenant or it can be divided into smaller blocks for multiple tenants,” Finnegan said.
That shopping center had another vacancy this month, with the announced closure of the Good Guys store on Aug. 3. The company, CompUSA/Good Guys, closed four of its five electronics stores in Washington.
The only tenant left in the three-building shopping block is Toys R Us.
Finnegan said the closure of the Good Guys Store shouldn’t make the former Home Base building any less attractive for potential tenants.
“The kind of tenant that is looking at the Home Base building is someone who is interested in the space and all of the available parking that comes with it, not whether Good Guys is next door,” Finnegan said.
Fairhaven B&B to close doors
In coming years, Terry and Kitty Todd will still go overboard in the winter with Christmas lights on their home at 1714 12th St., and in the summer, they’ll proudly fly American flags and hang bunting.
But, after this year, the Todds, who’ve also run the popular Fairhaven Bed and Breakfast out of their home since 1994, will no longer be accepting guests.
“We have this huge, huge home but we don’t feel like it’s ours’— it’s everybody’s, it’s a gift to this area,” said Kitty. “But now I want my grandkids to know me and their grandpa and to spend some time with them.There comes a time in your life when you have to take a hold of your life.”
Indeed, Terry, 69, and Kitty, 68, who’ve been together since the 1950s, when they attended Whatcom Junior High School, have been busy in their 48 years of marriage.
In addition to operating the bed and breakfast across from Fairhaven Middle School, the couple have operated more than 20 businesses, from miniature golf courses to gas stations, and spent thousands of hours volunteering in the community.
Terry, a 20-year assistant football coach at Western and a former assistant at Bellingham High School, will also retire from coaching duties after this season.
While the Todds have been active in many outlets, operating the bed and breakfast has provided them an opportunity to meet thousands of new people and use their home as a gathering place for friends and family.
Because of the home’s unique characteristics, Kitty said, she and her husband had considered opening a bed and breakfast there since they bought it in 1991.
Originally built in 1908, for years the home was just a two-bedroom bungalow. In the 1970s, however, Fairhaven developer Ken Imus had plans of transforming it into an inn and added two stories, a turret and pillars, giving the home its San Francisco Victorian feel.
“People kept coming to the door saying, ‘This is a great location for a bed and breakfast,’” Kitty said.
So the Todds moved to the second floor and rented out two rooms, decorated with pieces from Terry’s massive antique collection, on the ground floor.
The Garden Room and Victorian Suite rent for $95 and $125 a night, respectively, and feature private bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplaces and carved furniture. The bed and breakfast also has a shared kitchen, hot tub and patio.
Though guests have included Christian music stars, former University of Washington football coach Don James, former Seattle Seahawks kicker Todd Peterson and travelers from around the world, Kitty said some of her fondest memories were having Western football players over for dinners and hosting Christmas parties.
“The football players and our regulars are like family,” she said.
Many Fairhaven business leaders, who began learning about the Todd’s decision last month, say it will be sad to lose such a unique place of lodging.
“We’re all sad to hear it’s closing but I’m kind of relieved for them because they work really hard and have wanted to spend time doing other stuff together. Everyone can understand that,” said Taimi Gorman, founder of the Colophon Café and Gorman Publicity. “They have a beautiful house and it’s been an incredible bed and breakfast.”
Fairhaven Association president Phyllis McKee said the bed and breakfast has provided a fun experience for Fairhaven visitors.
“People love staying there and strolling into the village,” she said. “I think the need is great for more bed and breakfasts.”
Despite Fairhaven’s building boom and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics promising to bring more business, Kitty said the call of family — three sons and seven grandchildren — was too strong to ignore.
She said she and Terry will remain in the house and always have rooms available for regulars. Also, she’ll continue to host parties when called on.
“We still want to share our home,” she said. “I entertain a lot — and I mean a lot — especially at Christmas time.”
Bakerview shopping center in permitting
50,000-square-foot center would have up to 20 tenants
While thousands of new homes, apartments and residents are expected in the Cordata area in the coming years, local developer Morgan Bartlett believes something’s missing there — convenient, retail shopping.
So he’s addressing that void with Bakerview Square, a 50,000-square-foot retail shopping center planned in the 400 block of West Bakerview Road.
The $6.5 million project, which is currently in the permitting and application phases with the city, could initially have 15 to 20 tenants in its retail strips and will have two larger stand-alone buildings. A coffee company is currently considering leasing one of the larger locations.
“I think what we’re trying to accomplish is giving the folks in the Cordata area a more-convenient shopping option,” said Bartlett. “It will be a little nicer, upscale center they can walk to, rather than having to get in their cars and drive.”
Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion anticipated in late fall.
If all goes well, Bartlett said, there could be a second phase to the project, which would see an additional 60,000 square feet of retail space constructed on adjacent property. No time frame, however, has been set for phase two.
“I’m totally focused on phase one and will make my decision (on phase two) based on the success of phase one,” Bartlett said. “I’ll make a final decision on phase two in six monthsto a year.”
Bakerview Square will be the first dip into retail development for Bartlett, 38, director of operations for Madrona Bay LLC, a real-estate investments firm.
Bartlett, a Stanwood native who moved to Bellingham after graduating from the University of Washington in 1989, began developing properties locally in 1995. Today, he owns about 100,000 square feet of multi-family properties in various complexes around town.
Currently, Bartlett is building a 19-unit, 22,000-square-foot apartment complex near the corner of 32nd Street and Ferry Avenue. The $1.9 million complex should be finished in about five months.
In entering the realm of retail development, Bartlett said he needed to surround himself with a good team. He’s hired Faber Brothers Construction to do architectural design and permitting, and brought in Troy Muljat, of Muljat Group Realtors, and Brian Finnegan, of Westcom Properties, to handle leasing and marketing.
A general contractor has yet to be selected for the project.
Bartlett said the new experience — his largest project yet — is a little nervewracking, but he believes he’s up to the challenge.
“I don’t care what project it is, there’s always a risk factor,” he said. “There are so many variables to doing projects, that’s why not everybody is in this business. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”