ILWACO — Abigail Mack describes the 1880 Doupé Building at Ilwaco’s main intersection as “a gem.”
And she is eager to begin renovating the boarded-up property this fall with commercial space and 14 apartments.
“I’m really excited,” said Mack, who has lived in Ohio for about 13 years doing renovation and other projects in the Columbus area. Her company name is Arbor Equities.
She has visited the Long Beach Peninsula for about eight years and has friends here. “I like the small-town feel of Ilwaco,” she said. “The entire Peninsula is a fabulous area. The building is such a gem.”
Zoming permission needed
Permission is needed from the city of Ilwaco because she wants to convert about half of the first-floor space into apartments. It’s zoned for commercial use, which only allows apartments above the storefronts.
After hearing details Tuesday, May 1, members of Ilwaco Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval for a conditional-use permit to allow the downstairs apartments. The issue will go to Ilwaco City Council May 14.
The decision came with little comment from the planners but testimony from residents. They divided into supporters, some eager to have more residents living downtown patronizing local businesses, and others expressing concerns about potential loss of commercial space.
Everything else set to go
Doug Knutzen of Long Beach Realty, who represents Mack, said she wants to maintain the character of the old mercantile, with features like the original-style windows and “restore it to its old grandeur.”
All the components of her feasibility study are completed except the city permission. “If this is OK, she will buy the building,” he said ahead of the meeting. “We have met every other requirement.”
The building has been advertised for $225,000, although the city paperwork indicates a purchase price of $195,000. Mack declined to reveal the estimated cost of the renovation work. Knutzen said nine apartments are planned on the top level and five on the lower, taking about half of the commercially zoned space.
This is needed to generate cash flow to pay for the renovations, which will be done in stages. “It’s going to be a very expensive project,” he told planners. “She’s going in with open eyes.”
More ‘pros’ and ‘cons’
Supporters included Jessika Tantisook and Tiffany Turner, who spoke with enthusiasm about the project and Mack’s credentials. Thandi Rosenbaum and Wendi Peterson welcomed ways to alleviate the housing shortage in town.
David Jensen, former City Council member, said he was pleased someone was buying the building, but concerned about loss of commercial space. “I don’t see a strong case for housing on the ground floor,” he said. “There’s plenty of space upstairs.”
Some residents questioned the adequacy of parking. Knutzen said the project would meet requirements. Speaking personally, he expressed pleasure the building would come alive. “Ilwaco needs it,” he enthused. “This is a golden opportunity.”
The prior owners, Charles and Garnette McNeill turned the building back to the Great Northwest Federal Credit Union in 2016 to 2017. There were no foreclosure proceedings, said chief executive officer, Doug Page, said ahead of the meeting.
“We are very excited about the plans to fix the building up,” he said. “It could be a beautiful building with some work. It’s going to be a ‘win-win’ for everyone.”
Ilwaco City Council
6 p.m. May 14
Community room adjoining library
• For more information, see http://www.chinookobserver.com/20100817/doup-building-a-challenging-decaying-treasure