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Business Roundup | Wenatchee Shopko closing

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Wenatchee's Shopko will close in May. Quincy's Shopko will also close that month. The company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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Wenatchee Shopko closing

NCW — Shopko’s stores in Wenatchee and Quincy will close in May amid the company’s ongoing bankruptcy.

The Wenatchee store’s last day of operation will be May 12 and Quincy’s will be May 5, according to the website.

Shopko declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. It’s the latest big box store to go bankrupt due to the rise of online shopping and rapidly changing consumer habits.

Since the January announcement the Shopko has kept an updated store closure list online that now includes more than 250 stores across the country that are scheduled to cease operation.

At least 12 stores in Washington are now on the list but Wenatchee’s store was originally spared from the closures.

Shopko joins a long list of local retailers that have shuttered their doors in the past few years, including Sears, Sears Hometown Store, Craft Warehouse, and Hastings.

Quincy’s Shopko Hometown store, a scaled-back version of Shopko, opened in 2014. The 30,000-square-foot store had 20 to 25 full- and part-time employees, the Quincy Post-Register reported at the time.

The company had 363 stores around the country and more than 18,000 employees before the bankruptcy, according to its website.

 

Lady of the Lake sold to new owners

CHELAN — Lake Chelan ferry service, Lady of the Lake, will soon be under new ownership.

The Lake Chelan Boat Company, which owns the Lady of the Lake, announced Jan. 17 it has agreed to sell the ferry service to Discover Lake Chelan, a company owned by area residents Reed Courtney and Brun Garfoot.

In a news release published by lakechelannow.com, boat company owners Jack and Marilyn Raines said the Boat Company will stay on through the 2019 season to help new management acclimate to its role.

The Lady takes passengers from Chelan and Fields Point to hiking trails along the lake, Stehekin and the Lucerne boat dock for those headed to Holden Village.

The service operates year-round.

The Lady’s bloodlines date back to the late 1880s, with boats like The Belle of Chelan and The Stehekin, when prospectors began mining the area. The original Lady launched in 1890.

Courtney and Garfoot are local to the Lake Chelan area.

Courtney has worked for Mountain Barge Services, which ships freight and product across the lake, for 20 years. The Courtney family owns dozens of properties in the Stehekin area, including the Stehekin Valley Ranch.

Garfoot acts as Discover’s chief financial officer and has more than 15 years experience in the operations and finance field.

 

Tech meets history in Conrad Rose Mansion

WENATCHEE — It would have cost the same — or maybe even less — to demolish the Conrad Rose Mansion and start anew.

Instead, the building’s new owners chose to remodel the historic 113-year-old former funeral home in downtown Wenatchee. When construction is complete this spring it will be the headquarters of their tech companies Firefly and Legwork.

It’ll be curious what the price tag is when it’s done,” co-owner Denton Meier said. “My gut is telling me that it’ll be right at or it would have been cheaper to just demolish it and build something new.”

Meier purchased the building for $435,000 in July 2017 with business partners Korey Korfiatis and Jeff Weber. After the remodel is complete Meier estimates their total investment will be about $2.5 million.

The construction schedule has been delayed several times. It was originally projected to open by December 2018. Now Meier is forecasting an April move-in date.

The 24,000-square-foot building is on the Wenatchee Register of Historic Places, so each step in the remodel process has to be in line with state and local historical board requirements.

Crews also found asbestos “all over” in the building, which created delays, Meier said.

So why take on the project? It was worth it to give back to the community and add to the building’s history, Meier said.

The way I look at it, anything we do to it now will be historical,” he said. “Buildings that are old that someone takes the time and the money to put into it, that change will become historical. Just like every change that has happened so far to this building.”

From the outside, those changes will be minimal. The window frames will be black instead of white to compliment the dark brick, Meier said.

They built a wheelchair-accessible ramp up to the front entrance. The city of Wenatchee removed several overgrown trees that were buckling the sidewalk.

One day when the roof is replaced they’d like to go with a darker tone instead of the current reddish hue.

The building’s signature white columns will stay, but they need some work.

But on the inside it’ll be almost unrecognizable.

It’s down to the studs inside and we’re erecting a new structural element inside with beams that goes all the way up to the roof,” Meier said.

At this stage new walls are being framed and brick is being repaired. Construction has begun on an elevator shaft that will make stops at all four floors.

The 3,700-square-foot attic, which was previously empty, will be turned into office space and a co-working area.

The old crematory and embalming room from the building’s funeral home days will turn into offices and equipment storage. The owners also plan to turn an old sun porch into a museum room dedicated to the building’s history.

Legwork develops software for the dental industry and Firefly provides IT support to local companies, so all of internet and power infrastructure will be modern and efficient.

The owners are still solidifying the desk arrangements, but the two companies will each have a portion of the building.

They’ve been working with architect Mark Seman of MJ Neal Associates on the remodel.

 

Businesses see potential in new apartments

WENATCHEE — Columbia Valley Brewing used to neighbor an empty dirt field, but that field will soon be filled with hundreds of potential customers.

That’s thanks to Riverside 9’s new sister complex, 600 Riverside, which is under construction between Riverside Drive and Piere Street.

When the $12 million apartment complex opens, it will have 142 units — and will also be just a few feet away from a building that houses a gym and a pair of drinking venues, including Columbia Valley Brewing.

The complex’s first units will open this month and the rest will be online by November, said Casey Robertson, a spokeswoman for Weidner Apartment Homes, which owns both apartment complexes.

The residential complex will have studio, one-bed and two-bed apartments, as well as “live-work” units that feature a downstairs office and an upstairs apartment, she said.

John Bryant, the brewery’s general manager, said the area’s growth is a big plus for the business.

This development down here is tantamount to everybody being successful,” he said. “… This is a great place with Pybus being next to us. It’s just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Bryant said his only concern is the potential parking problems that may come with another large residential building. The brewery currently shares a 40-spot parking lot with a couple other businesses.

Parking is very valuable down here on the waterfront,” he said. “I think Riverside 9 has been challenged because I don’t think their original ideas of people bicycling to downtown and not owning a vehicle didn’t come to fruition.”

Riverhouse Cigar Bar, which is tucked in the same building between the brewery and Inner Circle Gym, is hoping the complex will lead to a bump in visibility and foot traffic, server Stephanie Tigner said.

The “Riverside bump” is already helping out another local watering hole, Wenatchee Valley Brewery, which sits just a few feet away from original Riverside 9 just a block down the road.

Peter Siderius, the brewery’s manager, said he estimates roughly 50 percent of their business comes from the apartment dwellers.

The brewery has capitalized on the customer potential by organizing events for Riverside 9 and offering gift cards to new residents, he said.

They’re already looking forward to when the new development opens down the block, Siderius said.

 

Payless ShoeSource closing all U.S. stores

EAST WENATCHEE — Payless ShoeSource announced Feb. 15 it will be filing for bankruptcy and closing all of its U.S. stores, including two locations in the Wenatchee Valley.

The company will begin liquidating its stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico starting Sunday, according to a Payless ShoeSource statement. Some of the company’s stores will close by the end of March, but many will stay open into May. The company does not known which stores will close when.

The company’s stores in Latin American countries will remain open, according to the statement.

This is the second time the company has filed for bankruptcy in the last two years. The company announced it would close about 500 stores in 2017.

At that time Payless was the nation’s largest family footwear retailer with more than 4,000 locations in 30 countries and around 22,000 employees. The company was headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, and owned by equity firms based in San Francisco.

The company has two locations in the Wenatchee Valley area: A store front in the Wenatchee Valley Mall in East Wenatchee, and a shoe section inside Shopko in Wenatchee.

Shopko announced earlier it will be closing stores in Wenatchee and Quincy.

 

Bid awarded for Yodelin Creek crossing

WENATCHEE — The Chelan County Commission awarded a construction bid Jan. 29 to replace two culverts on Yodelin Creek.

Strider Construction Company from Bellingham was awarded the bid for $958,569, said Jill FitzSimmons, Chelan County Public Works spokeswoman.

The project will replace two 36-inch diameter culverts across Stevens Road with a bridge near the Stevens Pass summit. Floodwaters in 2015 damaged the crossing.

Construction on the project will begin in July and finish in October, FitzSimmons said. The road will be closed during construction and a detour will be in place.

 

Wenatchee looks to buy land for future development

WENATCHEE — As a certified public accountant, Frank Kuntz gives advice to business clients.

I say, ‘Own your business. Own the building your business is in. And if there’s a chance to own the property adjacent to that, you might as well if it works because you never know,’” he said.

He’s applying that same advice to the city of Wenatchee as mayor.

The city is looking to buy property at 1612 Pine St., next to the Public Services Center, for future development. The cost would be $850,000 for about 2.5 acres, with a $5,000 deposit.

City Council on Jan. 24 authorized Kuntz to sign a purchase and sale agreement with the estate of Alice Jewell Brandt. The closing date would be no later than July 15.

It’s not a done deal, as the city must conduct an environmental inspection of the property and get an appraisal.

Executive Services Director Allison Williams said one possibility would be to move materials, equipment and supplies there from the city’s South Yard on Wenatchee Avenue. Another would be to move the facilities employees, who are now working in the basement of the old police station on Chelan Avenue.

Because land for sale is rare in Wenatchee, Williams said, this was an opportunity to seize.

The money would come from the city’s reserves.

The property is zoned for mixed-use business.

Kuntz said the real-estate listing was $950,000. The city’s offer of $100,000 less might still sound a little expensive, he said, but it’ll be worth it in 10 years.

 

Goodfellow Bros. to help with Camp Fire cleanup in California

PARADISE, Calif. — Wenatchee-based Goodfellow Bros. will spend the next year assisting in the removal of several million tons of debris from the site of the 2018 Camp Fire in Northern California.

Goodfellow Bros. will work with California companies Sukut Construction and Pacific States Environmental Contractors under a joint venture called SPSG Partners, according to a Feb. 4 press release.

The joint venture was awarded a $377 million contract from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery to assist in debris removal in the city of Paradise, said Brian Gates, Goodfellow Bros. California Division president.

After factoring in debris disposal fees, the total project cost will likely be closer to $450 million to $460 million, which will be split between the three companies, Gates said.

There’s a high sense of urgency to do it as as quickly as possible,” he said. “And we’re hoping to get it done within a year.”

Most of the 100 Goodfellow Bros. employees who will assist in the cleanup will be from its California offices. But the entire company will play a part in the project, CEO Chad Goodfellow said.

This is a project that is really important to our company as a whole,” he said. “We’re all contributing any help we can at this point.”

The Camp Fire was the largest and deadliest in California’s history, covering more than 150,000 acres and destroying more than 18,000 structures. Goodfellow Bros. is looking forward to helping the community recover, Goodfellow said.

As far as disaster relief, this is one of the most significant ever on the West Coast,” he said. “We’re honored to be a part of the team and contribute in any way we can.”