By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“It looks like we're just going to have to wait and see what happens with it,” museum spokeswoman Judy Stipe said.
An auction of the 85-foot grain elevator and the building at its base, which until recently held El Cazador Mexican restaurant, is slated for 10 a.m. Friday at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
If the building at 531 W. Washington St. in Sequim is purchased, museum officials likely will move on, Stipe said.
If not, they'll see what can be done to preserve it.
Museum trustees last week sent a letter of intent to Whidbey Island Bank, which owns the old grain elevator, asking that the auction be postponed so they could see whether the building would work as a new home for the museum.
Bill Foster of the Lynnwood law firm Hutchison & Foster, which serves as trustee for Whidbey Island Bank, was not available for comment Wednesday.
Stipe said other area conservation groups have expressed interests in acquiring the historic building to ensure it stays a feature of the Sequim skyline but did not specify who those groups are.
Whidbey Island Bank foreclosed on a loan to EC Sequim Properties LLC, the holding company for El Cazador.
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.
Foster said last Friday that the bank likely will start the bidding price near the amount it is owed. He doubted it would sell the structure for less.
He said the starting bid likely would not be set until the night before the auction.
MAC treasurer Louie Rychlik said the museum wanted to explore the possibilities of a property swap for the elevator.
He said Wednesday that the DeWitt Administration Center at 544 N. Sequim Ave. and the Dungeness Schoolhouse cannot be sold because they are restricted under the museum's bylaws.
None of the MAC properties is for sale, Stipe said.
El Cazador closed March 3 after 33 years.
The grain elevator dates back to the early 20th century and is a prominent reminder of the Dungeness Valley's agricultural heritage.
It was used to store grains brought in as cattle feed on the Seattle, Port Angeles and Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific.
Clallam Co-op built the retail building at the base of the elevator in 1944.
It was the Landmark Mall for years before being transformed into a Mexican restaurant in 1981.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.