Public Market to expand

Tube Time closes, makes room for more market businesses

Heidi Schiller
   The Bellingham Public Market is finally realizing its long-term goal of expanding into its neighbor’s space now that Tube Time has closed.
   The expansion will add almost 11,000 square feet to its current 14,000-square-foot space.
   Tube Time, which has been open for 13 years at 1522 Cornwall Ave., closed its doors on May 30. Public Market owners Gary Holloway and Stephen Trinkaus exercised an option in their lease agreement to take over Tube Time’s lease on June 1, and plan to expand the Public Market there.
   Holloway said he will likely connect the two spaces by demolishing the dividing wall between them. He said he and Trinkaus want to add several new tenants as well as possibly expand Terra Organica — Trinkaus’ business — into the space.
   From the beginning, Holloway and Trinkaus had conceptualized occupying the entire building at 1530 Cornwall Ave. That is why they originally built the Public Market sign extending over Tube Time’s space.
   So far, they have no serious contenders to lease the added area, but Holloway said he’d like to include businesses similar to the market’s current tenants, which include Terra Organica, Chocolate Necessities & Gelato, Juice It, Stuart’s At the Market, Seven Loaves Pizzeria, Maki Zushi, Panini Grill & Deli and Wild Blueberries.
   “I think there are two types of businesses we won’t lease to — any national chains or any business we already have in the market,” he said. “We’re looking for something that complements what we already have.”
   Ideally, Holloway said, he would like to include an environmental home center or a brewery. He said he has heard of several potential brewpub owners looking for a space to rent in town, and thinks the Public Market would be the perfect space for that type of business.
   “This town could use another one,” he said, referring to the already established and frequently busy Boundary Bay Brewery.
   Tube Time had been listed for sale since this January, but nothing panned out, said owner Jim Niles.
   Niles said the business was having difficulty affording the rent, which he said was not a reflection on the Public Market as they, too, had to pay rent, but rather a reflection of an overall trend toward higher downtown rents.
   The business also suffered from its seasonality, with summers being slow and unprofitable, he said.
   Niles, who opened Tube Time in the Cornwall location in 1994, said that while he is sad to see the business go, he is looking forward to traveling and spending time with his wife.
   “I’m going to deeply miss working with children and our staff — that part I’m really sad to let go of,” he said. “But I wish our neighbors well. They’ve been delightful to work with.”

Pawn shop near school raises concerns
Checkmate Pawn may be restricted from selling firearms

Heidi Schiller
   A local pawn shop owner wants to build a new store near Shuksan Middle School, but the city’s planning department may restrict his ability to store and sell firearms there.
   Checkmate Pawn owner Tim Adams has applied to demolish a vacant house and construct a new 9,000-square-foot building at 3325 Northwest Ave., located north of the Building Industry Association building. He wants to relocate Checkmate Pawn, currently located at 3016 Northwest Ave., to the new site.
   During the permit’s departmental review — a process that includes the city’s Parks, Building Services, Public Works, Fire and Police departments — concerns were raised about the business’s ability to store and sell firearms so close to Shuksan Middle School, located on the corner of Alderwood and Northwest avenues, according to planning department documents.
   Based on a recommendation by Mark Young, crime prevention officer with the Bellingham Police Department, city staff is recommending to the planning director that “any retail uses at the site be prohibited from the storage, sale and transport of any firearms at this location,” according to planning department documents.
   Adams, who also owns The Trading Post pawn shop on Guide Meridian, said that if the city restricts his ability to sell firearms at the site, it would harm his business. Interest on loans associated with firearms at his shop make up more than 20 percent of his sales, he said.
   According to the revised code of Washington (RCW 9.41.300), state law allows cities to enact ordinances restricting areas in which firearms may be sold, but Adams said the city has no such ordinance. State law also allows cities to restrict the location of a business selling firearms no less than 500 feet away from a primary or secondary school, but Adams said his location is farther than 500 feet away. According to Google maps, the business is approximately 0.3 miles away from the school, or 1,584 feet.
   Adams also mentioned that the city allowed St. Paul’s Episcopal School to be located next to his current shop on Northwest Avenue, and that no firearms incidents have occurred there.
   “Firearms are obviously a touchy issue. The state has set a limit, and we are outside of that limit,” he said. “We’re selling a legal product and we’re going to be farther from the school than we are now.”
   Jack Weiss, president of the Birchwood Neighborhood Association, said he thinks most Birchwood residents would be quite upset if they knew about the issue.
   Weiss said the addition of another pawn shop in the area would exacerbate an ongoing problem of crime and degradation in the neighborhood.
   “The Birchwood neighborhood has had a standing problem, through planning and design approvals, with a clustering of people in low-income situations that has created effects of higher crime, higher instances of free and reduced lunches at schools, and high instances of child abuse, because of zoning in the West Maplewood and Northwest Avenue corridors,” he said. “Commercially, we have additional pawn shops and payday loan centers, which prey on the low-income population, and an overall degradation of commercial activities in Birchwood Neighborhood.”
   Weiss said he is concerned about a pawn shop being located so close to Shuksan Middle School.
   “I think most people in our neighborhood would be very against it if they knew what is going on,” he said.
   A neighborhood meeting was held on the project in December, but Weiss said he didn’t know at that time the building would include a pawn shop, and said he doesn’t think most Birchwood residents are aware of it, either.
   City planner Brian Smart said from his experience, this is the first time the issue of firearms sales has been brought up in the planning department.
   “That is not in the purview of the planning division, which is one of the reasons we have a staff review committee, so that all departments have a chance to review and comment on a proposal,” he said.
   The planning department is in the process of completing the planned development permit review and will then issue the permit with a notice of decision, he said.

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