Auction halted anew for Sequim's iconic grain elevator

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — A pending purchase offer for Sequim's historic grain elevator led to the cancellation of an auction of the property last week, said a representative of the bank that holds a lien on it.

The auction had been set for Friday.

“The bank did discontinue the sale,” said Kerry Wake, commercial loan officer with Heritage Bank, formerly Whidbey Island Bank.

“It does look like there's an offer [from a third party] to purchase the property, [and] as the bank, I don't have any further comment about the details of the transaction,” Wake said.

Wake said the bank does not own the 85-foot structure at 531 W. Washington St., which most recently housed the El Cazador Mexican Restaurant, but has a lien against it related to a loan upon which the restaurant owners have defaulted.

About $1.05 million is owed on the original loan, according to a “notice of default” dated July 3 posted on the property's door.

Wake described the original restaurant owners as “still the owners of record” of the former grain elevator.

The Clallam County assessor's website lists EC Sequim Properties LLC as the owner of the property.

The business license for EC Sequim Properties lists Hilda Rodriguez and Arturo Briseno as the LLC's governing people.

Neither Rodriguez nor Briseno could be reached for comment Friday.

The original $800,000 loan was taken out in 2008, according to records on file with the Clallam County Auditor's Office.

El Cazador occupied the ground floor of the 85-foot grain elevator for 33 years before closing March 3.

Prior to that, it was home to the Landmark Mall.

Several postponements

Auction of the building has been postponed several times.

A May 9 date was pushed back to June 6. Bill Foster of the Lynnwood law firm Hutchinson & Foster did not say why the bank decided to postpone the sale or whether the decision was related to a request by trustees of the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley to delay the auction while it considered possibly buying the building.

Louie Rychlik, a trustee and treasurer for the MAC, initially suggested it sell off some of its property and purchase the elevator to use as an exhibit center.

“But we really can't sell off any of our property,” he said in May, so he and Sequim photographer and fellow MAC trustee Ross Hamilton began a fundraising effort for the structure.

The June 6 date was postponed to last week to allow more time for fundraising.

Rychlik said Friday he'll halt his fundraising effort to buy the structure, which is Sequim's tallest building, if the purchase offer goes through.

“If the offer falls through, I'll start it up again,” he said.

Rychlik envisions the structure as an arts-based community center.

He said he also intends to get the building listed on the state's registry of historic places.

The building went up in 1942 as a stock store for the Clallam Co-op Association.

The elevator was built on the Seattle, Port Angeles and Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, in the early part of the 20th century.

It was used primarily to store incoming feed for Dungeness Valley dairy farms and outgoing produce.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.



Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie contributed to this report.

Last modified: July 20. 2014 8:28AM
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