Emerald Bay Events, which announced plans last month for an 80,000-square-foot conference and reception center in Ferndale, may be looking to build their new headquarters as soon as possible.
Last month, neighboring Lighthouse Mission Ministries purchased Emerald Bay’s 10,000-square-foot building at 1013 Holly St. for $750,000.
Lighthouse Mission executive director Ronald Buchinski said officials already have some tentative ideas for the new property.
“For sometime now, we’ve seen more of a need for programming for homeless women and children,” he said. “That’s obviously going to be a high priority as we go ahead with our planning.”
The ministry’s board of directors will meet in the next few months, he said, and solidify plans.
The Lighthouse Mission, a privately operated, non-denominational Christian ministry dedicated to helping the homeless, was founded locally in 1923.
In addition to its new property, the Mission, which has 26 employees, has its administrative offices and a long-term shelter at 923 Holly St., as well as an emergency shelter for men and women at 910 Holly St.
When Mission officials learned the Emerald Bay property was for sale, Buchinski said, they were immediately interested, because of the possibility of expanding operations into a nearby building.
“It’s exciting whenever a ministry or an agency can operate in the context of a small campus,” he said. “Staff are able to report to other departments easier and there’s not a lot of travel involved. The fact this particular property presented 24 parking places for us was also significant because we have many guests who have vehicles.”
The Mission took out a loan to pay for the building, Buchinski said, and is hoping to raise the necessary resources to pay it off as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Britain Walker, a sales representative at Emerald Bay and former owner of the building, said Mission officials have told him the 30-person catering and events company can lease the building for as long as they need it.
Walker, who founded Emerald Bay in 1996 with his wife, Gail, and sold his ownership last year to Kim Alfreds, said the sale of the building, which he purchased three years ago, has allowed him to double his money on his investment and will enable his wife to retire.
“It’s a good situation,” Walker said. “It allows me to create some 1031 (property exchange) money to do some other investing, and (the Lighthouse Mission) will get another care facility.”
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“It’s not a budget-minded type situation,” said Jim Kaemingk, Jr., the Windermere real estate agent representing the potential development.
The site, on the northeast corner of Semiahmoo Spit, overlooking Drayton Harbor, Kaemingk said, was put on the market several months ago by Trillium Corp. and is around 25 total acres, including approximately 14 acres of underwater property.
Despite its hefty price tag, “we have inquiries on it all the time,” Kaemingk said. “People have flown up here to see it and we’re working with a few clients right now. I know one party is very capable (of purchasing it).”
The property, he said, offers an intriguing development opportunity, with mixed-use zoning, and the potential for commercial and retail projects, as well as multifamily or condo units.
The underwater portion of the property, he said, would also allow the buyer to build a marina so large it would double the amount of space currently available at the Semiahmoo Marina. Slips at the new marina would likely start around 60 feet, and, because the new buyer would own the submerged property, users could own the slips as opposed to leasing them.
Kaemingk said the property was among thousands of acres purchased in the area in the 1970s by David Syre and Trillium Corp., which went on to build the Semiahmoo Resort and residential communities. Neither Kaemingk nor Trillium officials had the original purchasing price of the property readily available.
Wayne Schwandt, Trillium’s vice president of real estate and special projects, said the 25 acres are not related to the company’s proposed Seagrass Cottages development, which at one time called for 70 homes on the spit.
“The reason it’s on the market right now is because we learned from the work we’ve done in support of Seagrass that the market for a higher-end product is still very strong,” he said. “We put it on the market to see what type of interest we could generate and see if there was anyone interested in coming in and taking it on.”
Schwandt added that Trillium is not determined to sell the property immediately and will continue to evaluate its overall use.
David Raney, the former vice president at Skeers Construction, pled guilty to three counts of theft in Whatcom County Superior Court on Thursday, Jan. 5.
Raney was initially charged with 19 counts of theft-related crimes, but at the hearing both parties agreed to drop 16 counts, leaving only the three Raney pled guilty to.
Raney was hired as vice president at Skeers Construction Inc. in 1999, and was expected to run much of the company for the owner, Dick Skeers, according to Raney’s lawyers, Starck Follis and Thomas Fryer.
After approximately five years with the company, a dispute arose over a partnership created in the construction of the Hannah Creek project, located near Whatcom Falls. As a result, Skeers decided to run a company audit, which led to charges against Raney by the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office alleging that he made unauthorized decisions with company money.
Raney does not dispute that he owes money to Skeers Construction and has agreed to pay restitution to Skeers Construction, said his lawyers.
According to his lawyers, Raney offered to pay restitution regarding the three counts he pled guilty to just after he was let go from the company, but his initial offer was rejected.
In this case, both parties have agreed upon a restitution amount of just more than $217,000, according to the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
A sentencing hearing is the next step in the case; it is expected to be scheduled in the near future.