Courtney Simons (right) helps her daughter, Whitaker, 5, put on her skates at Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Courtney Simons (right) helps her daughter, Whitaker, 5, put on her skates at Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett Skate Deck, a place of youth and romance, will close

The business has been in the same family for four generations. Now it’s fated to become townhomes.

EVERETT — Ryan Acklus grew up on the hand-turned maple rotunda rink of the Everett Skate Deck.

His family has owned the business since 1961, when it was at 2201 California St., just east of Broadway. In 1976 his grandparents, Bobbie and Eric Englund, relocated it to 9700 19th Ave. SE, where it’s been ever since.

“I was practically born here,” Acklus said at one of the rink-side tables during a break from cleaning and setting up before the weekly family night.

Acklus remembers riding with his grandfather in a bus he bought to pick up youth skaters in Lake Stevens, Monroe and Sultan for Friday and Saturday night sessions. He’d get a milkshake out of joining.

There were all-night skate sessions from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Part of the action included a mile-long race, kind of like roller skating’s equivalent of a dance marathon. Even Acklus doesn’t remember how many laps it took to make a mile.

They would set up a screen for a movie in the west corner of the rink. By 2 a.m. the sugar crash hit many of the teens and tweens, Acklus said.

By his teens, he handled the music. Tunes are an important part of the culture, whether it’s competitive roller figure skating or open sessions where crushes are forged and maybe hands are held for the first time.

Yusmani Milo grabs a pair of skates for a customer Thursday at the Everett Skate Deck. Milo has worked in the skates room for over 20 years. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Yusmani Milo grabs a pair of skates for a customer Thursday at the Everett Skate Deck. Milo has worked in the skates room for over 20 years. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

All of that could be left to history soon.

Everett Skate Deck’s last day of business is set for Sunday, April 3.

A developer offered to buy the family-owned property during the pandemic. They weren’t sure after the state’s initial closure of non-essential industries.

But when restrictions lingered and business lagged, they agreed to sell the 3.72-acre property valued at $2,039,000, according to Snohomish County records. Details of the sale weren’t available.

The decision wasn’t easy for the owners of a four-generation family business.

People make their way around the outer edge of the rink during family night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People make their way around the outer edge of the rink during family night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“I feel terrible because we owe the community everything,” said Acklus, who owns the business with his brother, Cory, and mother, Teri.

Next door, a backhoe operator tore through the concrete where the Alfy’s restaurant once stood, as recently as two months ago, on 19th Avenue SE.

Without a new location, Everett Skate Deck will join the pizza parlor’s fate to become rubble. The owners have sought and are “actively looking” for a new space to open the rink. But the same hot real estate market that has pushed up home prices is affecting commercial lots, as well.

“We’ve been scouring the area,” Ryan Acklus said.

Pacific Ridge Homes, the Bothell-based developer and part of D.R. Horton, proposes building 85 townhomes on the former Alfy’s and Everett Skate Deck properties. Spread across 13 buildings, the three-story townhomes would each have a two-car garage and two or three bedrooms.

As of last week, none of the permits were approved by the city as staff reviewed them.

Children hang out in the center of the rink and work on their moves during family night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Children hang out in the center of the rink and work on their moves during family night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

There’s a virtual public hearing on the development proposal at 9 a.m. on March 31.

These last days are hard for Ezra Thompson, coach of the Everett Eagles skate team since 2008. He’s been an avid skater most of his life and competed in roller skating before founding the team.

He started with one student. Now he has around 30 students from 5 to 18 years old.

Recently, Thompson taught his 5-year-old niece to skate, another in a long line of pupils who learned the basics from him over the years.

“I wouldn’t be here, and these kids wouldn’t be here, without them,” Thompson said of the Acklus and Englund families. “They’ve always kept the cost down. They don’t price-gouge people.”

Admission with skate rental costs $13.

Like other sports and hobbies, skating’s ranks shifted over the decades.

Dylan Norsby, 9, reacts to winning the final race of the night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Dylan Norsby, 9, reacts to winning the final race of the night at the Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Skating is having another surge in popularity. The Washington Post wrote about the sport’s growth during the pandemic in 2020. The Canadian network CBC hailed last year as a roller skating renaissance.

In recent months, Acklus said the rink has been packed on weekends as COVID cases decline and with mask requirements set to end this week.

But the deal’s done. They have to be out of the building in May, and there’s a lot of equipment and gear to clear out by then.

They have close to 1,000 pairs of skates, vending machines, booths and more that they hope to put in storage with an eye to reopen someday, somewhere. They’re even thinking of removing the wood rink floor, the same that was installed in 1976, rather than see it demolished.

Before the sale, the family was in the process of redecorating with a retro look, including putting old skates on the wall and memorabilia from Everett Skate Deck’s past. As they sorted through those archives, they found old letters from skaters to his grandparents, including some where they apologized for getting into fights and thanked the Englunds for letting them back on the rink.

“Skating is and will be a great American pastime,” Acklus said.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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