EVERETT — People could be sipping an espresso, savoring glasses of whiskey and wine, meeting for boating club business, and enjoying a concert at the Weyerhaeuser Building next year.
Under the agreement, the port estimates paying up to $1 million to get the building ready. That work includes replacing all of the windows, renovating the interior, and upgrading utilities and restrooms.
The deal could net the port revenue, while seeing the nearly 100-year-old Weyerhaeuser Building restored for use as a bar, coffee shop, boating club meeting space and performance venue.
Whidbey Island restaurateur Jack Ng heads The Lokey Group. Ng owns and operates China City locations in Freeland and Mill Creek and is opening a seafood restaurant at port property. He’s also a Port of South Whidbey commissioner.
The Lokey Group is responsible for redeveloping the nearly 100-year-old former lumber company office and showroom. It would operate the building as the tenant, and the Port of Everett would still own it.
Ng said he plans to open it in spring 2023 as the Muse Whiskey Bar and Coffee Shop.
After he and his wife traveled to Scotland, they wanted something similar to the boutique hotel where they stayed, Ng said.
Last year during a meeting with Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber about his upcoming Fisherman Jack’s restaurant in Everett, they talked about the Weyerhaeuser Building. After a visit to the 6,000-square-foot space, he was at home flipping through a book of architecture a friend gave him. The Weyerhaeuser Building designed by architect Carl Gould was in it, he said.
“We really fell in love with this building,” Ng said.
Originally the Gothic-style Weyerhaeuser Building was a showroom for the company’s lumber. It was built with a 160-ton concrete and steel safe for the company’s fortunes.
Ng said he plans to turn the safe into a temperature controlled wine locker for customers to stash their bottles for a fee.
In 1938, it was relocated from Mill A at 3500 Terminal Ave., where the port’s South Terminal is today, to Mill B, where it became office space until the mill closed in 1979.
The building was donated to the Port of Everett, which barged it to the South Marina. For years it was used by the Everett Chamber of Commerce.
But it has been vacant for two decades.
In 2016, the port hired a company to lift and roll it down West Marine View Drive to its current spot at Boxcar Park at 1200 Millwright Loop W, near the public boat launch. It had to be moved before the city of Everett built the Grand Avenue Park Bridge, which created height restrictions on the road.
The port has wanted to reopen the building for public use and initially aimed to do so in 2020. But after the pandemic hit the work was “too costly” without a private partner, Lefeber said.
The lease starts at $6,000 per year for the first five years. After that, it rises to $12,000 per year with 3% increases in the final four years.
Initial rent is low because the surrounding area hasn’t been fully developed by the port yet. There are six options to extend the lease another five years at market value for each extension, but rent won’t be lower than it was in the 10th year and can’t increase more than 15% in any one year.
The port also gets 6% of sales after $500,000 in annual gross sales.
Ng projects $1.25 million in sales the first year and over $2 million by the 10th year. He said he projects twice that amount for his upcoming Fisherman Jack’s restaurant because it has a full kitchen.
That would net $47,250 that first year and $105,927 by the last year of the original lease. Those numbers seemed “fairly accurate” to port Commissioner Tom Stiger after he said he researched restaurant industry statistics.
“I’m really excited about the concept,” Commissioner Glen Bachman said.
The lease also requires letting the Milltown Sailing Association and Mukilteo Yacht Club use the Weyerhaeuser. Both are in a building south of Boxcar Park now, but the building is set to be demolished as part of the port’s $650 million Waterfront Place redevelopment.
Those deals were still being negotiated.
One concern for Mukilteo Yacht Club commodore Don Dauenhauer is accessibility for some of the 80 members to get upstairs.
The port doesn’t plan on installing an elevator because it would “change the historic nature” of the building, Lefeber said. But staff are considering a wheelchair lift.
Dauenhauer said he and the yacht club’s board members like that it would stay near the boat launch and the park. The club also has a boat slip in the marina north of Boxcar Park.
“It is a classy-looking building,” Dauenhauer said.