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Demolition time: North Bend swings wrecking ball at downtown buildings, blight
This week in North Bend is the last for a group of derelict buildings and blackberry bushes on the city’s Main Avenue. Crews with Weber Construction of Snoqualmie were expected to begin clearing the sites at 111 and 115 Main Avenue North on Monday, in a $48,000 project to improve public safety and downtown parking.
The North Bend City Council authorized the demolition, brush-clearing and construction of a gravel parking lot on the privately-owned property at its July 15 meeting, allocating up to $40,350 for the cost. Combined with $7,500 for removing asbestos last month (one building had asbestos-concrete siding), the total project cost is projected to be less than $48,000.
Although the city doesn’t own the properties, the project offered enough value for North Bend for city officials to negotiate an agreement for the cleanup with the property owners.
“We were having issues with our criminal transients, camping back there,” said North Bend City Administrator Londi Lindell.
Across the street at the Chaplin’s Chevrolet service department, people noticed the problem, too, and have noticed the activity gradually increasing in the past five years or so.
It’s been enough of a concern, says Randy Eaton, Chaplin’s service manager for the past two years, that the company decided to move the shop’s employee parking area. “Our employees were concerned about parking there,” Eaton said. “Customers have commented on it.”
“It” was suspicious activity, lots of people coming and going from the property, many of them “20-somethings” and “awful skinny,” said Eaton, and “You could see smoke sometimes” from the building, but he never saw anything exactly illegal. “A lot of it is assumption…. I don’t know what they’re doing, but I know they’re not applying for work!”
Eaton commented on it, when he started working at the shop two years ago, but his co-workers just laughed off the questions and said everyone knew about it.
So he, like most workers in the area, didn’t complain to the city, but he didn’t have to.
“I’ve been getting complaints from my police department, from (the nearest residential tenant), from the Public Works crew,” said Lindell. “The complaint that really drove this was the fact that we had transients breaking into the houses… and these structures are falling down. It’s not safe for people to be in there, it’s not safe for our officers to run through.”
Several months ago, city officials began negotiating with Craig Glazier, representing property owner William Glazier, on an agreement to clear out the area and establish a gravel lot. The agreement, finalized April 15, leaves the property ownership with Glazier, but allows the city to clean up the property and provide it for public use.
“The Glazier family is excited about its good working relationship with the city of North Bend and we look forward to participating in the future revitalization of the downtown core,” Craig Glazier wrote in an e-mail message to the Record.
About 16,000 square feet of the property will be used for much-needed downtown parking. Lindell said some of the feedback she’s heard regarding the empty commercial buildings in North Bend was that “people don’t want to fill buildings because there’s not enough street parking.”
The project is expected to be complete by the end of the week, but the schedule will vary with what hazards the crew finds on the site. Although the asbestos is gone, Lindell said it’s possible that an abandoned vehicle is still on the property, which could extend the timeline and cost up to an additional $2,500 to remove.
• Also downtown: At the same city council meeting, Lindell was authorized to begin a negotiation with siblings Gloria and John Korsmo for their property at 116 West North Bend Way. Lindell said the family has approached the city about the possibility of the property’s use as a new civic center, and wants to discuss forfeiting the property, currently held by William Glazier, for the city’s use.