By Emily Hamann
A new yoga studio set to open in the new year will mark a major milestone in Bellingham’s waterfront redevelopment project.
Claire Stetina plans to open Bellingham Yoga Collective in the Granary Building in February. If all goes according to plan, it will be the first business to open in the building, which is in turn the first building project to be completed in the multi-decade, multi-stage redevelopment of 237 acres of property on Bellingham’s waterfront that has been vacant since Georgia-Pacific shut down its pulp and paper mill facility in 2007.
“It’s super exciting for me to be the first business,” Stetina said. She said she has signed a lease with Harcourt, the development company that now owns the Granary Building and has been hired to redevelop parts of the waterfront.
“I really fell in love with the space,” Stetina said. The Bellingham Yoga Collective will occupy the entire third floor of the Granary Building, a 1,350-square-foot space. She intends to retain the wood floors, and the views offered by walls of windows on two sides of the building.
“One of the reasons I was drawn to that space is the floors were just stunning,” she said.
Their permit for tenant improvement is being reviewed by the city right now, Stetina said, and after construction begins the studio will be able to open in about six weeks.
She is working with Zervas Architects to design the space, and is in the middle of the bidding process to find a contractor.
Currently, Stetina said the yoga studio could open in mid-February. That is dependent on a couple of other factors however — she said she can’t open until the parking lot is finished.
When it does open, Stetina said the Bellingham Yoga Collective will offer 25-28 yoga classes per week, in addition to massages, and other wellness and healing services. The studio will also offer childcare for people attending morning classes, Stetina said.
Customers will be able to pay an annual fee to become a member of the studio, which will get them discounted prices.
“It’s a little different than a lot of yoga studio models,” Stetina said. “It’s based on building community.”
That community will also include events like membership parties and networking functions, Stetina said. In the new year, she will start hiring for the studio — she said she is looking for around half a dozen instructors, plus staff for the childcare center.
“I need great yoga teachers in there,” she said.
In addition to teaching yoga, Stetina has managed yoga studios, hired staff and run training programs for new yoga teachers.
“I’ve been in the industry for years,” she said. “I’ve held just about every hat, except [studio owner].”
Stetina graduated from Western Washington University. She left Bellingham to launch her career teaching yoga in San Francisco, and then Seattle, but she said she has always wanted to come back and open her own yoga studio.
“The dream of the Bellingham Yoga Collective has been brewing,” she said. When she heard about the Granary Building redevelopment project, that dream started taking shape.
“I’ve been trying to get this space for over a year,” she said.