What will this building look like?

Longtime Valley residents may remember the brown tile and stucco Seattle First National bank in North Bend before the building adopted the Alpine motif in 1970 and later became the Hangchow Chinese Restaurant. That's not the incarnation of the building North Bend Realtor Dave Cook is reviving as he remodels it to house his real estate business.

Instead, he's drawing inspiration from the 1929 remodel that added a cornice, columns and other ornamentation to the otherwise drab, concrete bank built in 1910.

"I thought it was classy, elegant," Cook said. "I wonder what they were thinking when they decided to strip off the cornice."

Cook said he not only wanted to provide a building that would allow his business - currently based in his North Bend home - to expand, he also wanted to give something back to the city by renovating a downtown building.

"When I ran for office, I pledged to revitalize downtown," Cook said. He was elected to the North Bend City Council in 2003. "You've got to fix up downtown one building at a time ... It's best to lead by example."

That's why he focused his search for a building in North Bend's downtown core, Cook said. He learned last year from his neighbor, Hugo Loveland, owner of the building, that it was for sale and later purchased it from his estate (Loveland died in 2005) in May 2006. It took several more months to finalize reconstruction plans. Work began in November. The renovation is being partially financed by county and city historic restoration grants.

The project has turned out to be bigger than Cook imagined.

"Basically, I bought four concrete walls," Cook said. "There was nothing historic left. It was all stripped in prior renovations."

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