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On the block? Not quite yet

The iconic Sequim Co-op grain elevator and El Cazador site at 531 W. Washington St. was slated to go to auction last week, but that auction date has been pushed back. Bill Foster, estate trustee, said Whidbey Island Bank requested the auction for the grain elevator be postponed until June 6.  - Photo by Bob Lampert
The iconic Sequim Co-op grain elevator and El Cazador site at 531 W. Washington St. was slated to go to auction last week, but that auction date has been pushed back. Bill Foster, estate trustee, said Whidbey Island Bank requested the auction for the grain elevator be postponed until June 6.
— image credit: Photo by Bob Lampert

 

Another delay in the auction of the iconic Sequim Co-op grain elevator and El Cazador site at 531 W. Washington St. may help preservationists find a way to save the structure.

Bill Foster, the trustee for the estate, said last week that Heritage Bank, formerly Whidbey Island Bank, which holds the foreclosed property, requested the trustee’s sale for the grain elevator be postponed until 10 a.m. Friday, June 6, at the Clallam County Courthouse.

Kerry Wake, commercial loan officer for the bank, said the postponement was an internal decision to finish needed paperwork.

“We wanted to get all our ducks in a row,” he said. “There was no agenda behind the postponement.”

Louie Rychlik, the Museum & Arts Center of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley treasurer, said he was notified the auction was postponed but has not heard back about the museum’s May 2 request to postpone the auction further so they can find financial support.

MAC trustees voted to send the letter on May 1 to the bank to postpone the site’s May 9 auction. It originally was set for auction on April 25 but delayed for the first time.

Wake said he’s aware of a preservation group trying to purchase the site but he doesn’t have the ability to negotiate a sale.

“All I can do is facilitate information,” he said. “I’ve tried to convey to parties who have expressed interest that the best course of action is to contact the owner.”

Owner Hilda Rodriguez, who owned El Cazador, owes more than $950,000 on the estate. The restaurant was in that spot 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.

Wake said the only way to purchase the property prior to the auction is through Rodriguez.

The idea of the MAC buying the site isn’t in the picture, Rychlik said, because it isn’t in a financial position to pay for it.

He said the museum just made money for the first time in April since a major overhaul of the MAC’s staff and trustees a few months ago. At the end of April the museum had about $35,000 in the bank, Rychlik said.

Judy Stipe, MAC spokesman, said the MAC’s trustees are serving as preservationists by looking for outside people to purchase and preserve it.

Rychlik said he hopes the facility is donated to the museum so volunteers can move and show off much of the collection that’s in the exhibit center, 175 W. Cedar St., and DeWitt Building, 544 N. Sequim Ave.

Stipe said it would be a great place to put the museum if all the logistics worked out.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire to help us out,” Rychlik said. “People don’t want to see it tore down.”

Wake said a bidding price would be established likely the Thursday night before the auction.

He’s spoken with locals about possibly swapping land for the site, which he said the bank declined.

“We just want money. We don’t want land. That’s not in the best interest of the bank,” Wake said.

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

For now, he’s turned the grain elevator effort over to Stipe so he can focus on helping the MAC rebound financially.

“We’ve got the ball rolling. Now it’s up to someone to follow the ball,” Rychlik said.

But his passion for the site hasn’t swayed.

“I’m all gung-ho about it,” he said. “There’s got to be some people in town willing to step up and help us out.”

 

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