UPDATE Auction for grain elevator postponed

Whether or not the iconic Sequim Co-op grain elevator and El Cazador site at 531 W. Washington St. goes to auction remains up in the air, but what is certain is this: that auction date has been pushed back.

Bill Foster, the trustee for the estate, said Whidbey Island Bank requested the auction for the grain elevator be postponed until either May 23 or June 6.

He did not have more details on whether or not the bank is working with the museum or not.

Last week, board members with the Museum & Arts Center of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, voted to send sent a letter to Whidbey Island Bank, which holds the estate, to postpone a 10 a.m. Friday, May 9, auction at the Clallam County Courthouse.

Louie Rychlik, the MAC treasurer, said they sent the letter on Friday, May 2, to postpone the auction.

“There’s a lot of prominent people here in the valley who want to help us out,” Louie Rychlik, the MAC treasurer, said. “They don’t want to see it tore down.”

Former owner Hilda Rodriguez owes more than $950,000 on the estate. She owned the Sequim El Cazador which was a landmark business in Sequim for 33 years before closing on March 3 due to declining revenues. The grain elevator’s site dates back to the early 20th century with its many businesses selling feed, produce and seeds.

Foster, the estate trustee with Hutchison & Foster in Lynwood, said a bidding price would be established likely on Thursday night by the bank. Foster said it’s unlikely the bank will ask or start the bidding on the site for less than what it’s owed.

Rychlik said last week his hope was that the bank will give them at least 90 days to work out a deal.

“We don’t want to start doing anything until we can postpone for 90 days,” he said. “The board is all gung-ho about it. We’re talking to a few people and have a lot of people behind us.”

Judy Stipe, spokesman for the MAC, said the board, serving as a conservancy group, accomplished what they set out to do by generating awareness and support.

“They felt this sense of urgency for this once in a lifetime thing in our town,” Stipe said.

“There’s a lot of energy with this. If it was garnered, it would be wonderful to put the museum in there. But we don’t have enough money to purchase it.”

The museum, which saw a major overturn of its staff and volunteers in March due to the organization’s direction, is no longer losing money, Rychlik said.

“We’re not frivolously spending,” Stipe said. “We’re looking for outside people to purchase it and preserve it.”

The DeWitt Building and Dungeness Schoolhouse are restricted and cannot be sold, Stipe said, but the MAC owns the Exhibit Center at 175 W. Cedar St. However, the board has not discussed any decisions on its future formally, she said.

Rychlik said the exhibit building is not for sale. If the site does go to auction, Rychlik said he’s not sure what the MAC board will do.


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