The Follow-up File

Subject: Fussner Building remodel


What they said then:

In March 2007, the BBJ reported that the owners of Running, Saratoga Commercial Real Estate, Whatcom Environmental Services, and the law firm of Brownlie Evans Wolf & Lee had joined forces to purchase the historic Fussner monument building at the corner of State and Champion streets in downtown Bellingham.

The Fussner family built the building in 1922 to house a granite and tombstone carving business. The partnership planned to remodel the existing building to include office and retail spaces for themselves and other tenants.

The partners expected construction to begin in the summer of this year and to be completed before the end of 2007.


What they say now

Ken Reinschmidt, president of Saratoga Commercial Real Estate, said renovation of the building took much longer than the partners anticipated. They received a permit for the work later than expected at the beginning of August and spent the next month reviewing and re-estimating the scope and cost of construction.

In September, workers began demolition on the site, and renovation by Scoboria Construction began in mid-October, Reinschmidt said.

The cost, originally estimated at about $600,000 for the renovation, will likely reach just under $1 million, he said. The cost increased because of the lag in permit time, as well as a few construction surprises during the renovation.

He hopes the building will be ready for occupancy by early March.

The renovation is intended to keep the original look and feel of the building while adding modern upgrades.

When completed, the building will offer about 1,000 square feet of office space and a 1,500-square-foot corner retail space for lease, Reinschmidt said.

“This is a long-term thing and we feel it’s worth every penny we spend on it to secure our presence downtown,” he said. “This way, we won’t have to worry about rising rents and any unpredictable costs of staying downtown.”

The partners hope to have a grand opening event in spring after they are all settled in.

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