Museum awaits bank decision on Sequim granary auction this week

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Museum & Arts Center officials expect to hear perhaps as early as today whether the bank that owns the landmark Clallam Co-op grain elevator will grant the group's request to delay a public auction scheduled for Friday.

“They said they'll get back to us next week about it,” said Louie Rychlik, treasurer of the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, last Friday.

Trustees asked to have the auction delayed so they can study the possibility of moving the museum into the skyline icon at 531 W. Washington St. that once formed the logo for city promotions.

Rychlik said last week that representatives of Whidbey Island Bank told him they will study the proposal and let museum trustees know whether they will postpone Friday's public auction scheduled at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles.

Whidbey Island Bank owns the building after foreclosing on a loan to EC Sequim Properties LLC, the company that held the building for its former ground-floor tenant, El Cazador Mexican restaurant that closed March 3.

Rychlik said he had received a great deal of support Friday from residents excited about the possible move after the proposal was featured in a Peninsula Daily News / peninsuladailynews.com article that morning.

It's possible, Rychlik said, that the Museum & Art Center known as the MAC would propose a swap of its DeWitt Administration Center at 544 N. Sequim Ave. and the Exhibit Center — the city's old post office — at 175 W. Cedar St. to the bank for the defunct grain elevator.

Bill Foster, trustee for the bank, said the bank will weigh the museum's request against the price it could fetch from the auction.

Foster, with the Lywood law firm of Hutchison & Foster, estimated the granary's auction sale price to be around $1 million.

“Ultimately, it's not my decision. It's going to be the decision of the bank,” Foster said.

EC Sequim Properties owes Whidbey Island Bank $912,644.11 on the building, which was put up as collateral on a loan, according to the notice of trustee's sale.

Clallam County assessed the building's value at $865,439.

The old, 85-foot-tall grain elevator was built by the Clallam Co-op in 1944. Corn, beans and wheat imported for cattle feed in Dungeness Valley dairies were stored there.

When it was built, the elevator sat on the Seattle, Port Angeles and Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific.

In the modern era, the railroad tracks are gone and several communications companies have wireless transmitters atop the structure.

A new slate of trustees was elected to the MAC's governing board last month.

Director DJ Bassett resigned March 28, along with most of the museum staff.

The new trustees sought positions on the board out of concern over the museum's mounting operating losses.

Rychlik said that has turned around, and that the MAC now has all its bills paid and $35,000 in the bank.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 05. 2014 1:38AM
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