It took nearly a decade for Lyman Boyd to kick off second-phase construction on his Leavenworth hotel, the popular Bavarian Lodge. Today, saws are buzzing and hammers banging.
“We were waiting for various factors to line up just right,” said Boyd. “Now the economy is healthier, tourism is stronger and interest rates are about as low as ever.”
The Bavarian Lodge’s 42-room, $5 million expansion is one of a handful of large-scale commercial construction projects underway now across the region.
“Companies and business owners are taking advantage of what’s happening in today’s economy,” said Alan Beidler, broker for Sage Real Estate Services, a commercial properties firm in Wenatchee.
Beidler said low interest rates — for qualified borrowers, as low as 3.75 percent — mean companies can “build for the future.”
That’s the case for McDougall & Sons, Inc., one of the state’s largest fruit growers, said Steve Lutz, vice-president of marketing for Columbia Marketing International, which promotes McDougall’s cherries and apples. This summer, McDougall is putting the finishing touches on a Baker Flats warehouse that measures nearly 450,000 square feet in size.
“They don’t need all that space now,” said Lutz, “but new fruit varieties have contributed to consistently larger harvests. When trees planted a few years ago start producing, McDougall will need that extra space”
At Bavarian Lodge, Boyd said Leavenworth tourism dipped slightly during the 2007-2011 recession but has strongly rebounded in the last two years. “Overall, we estimate lodging in town is up 10 percent,” he said, “so we’re building — with optimism — that growth will continue for the next five years.”
Tod McLaughlin, general manager of Apple Valley Honda, said his dealership’s move from Wenatchee to a new site in East Wenatchee is because “we’re growing, and space here (at the Wenatchee location) is tight. There’s no room to expand the way we’d like to.”
For instance, Honda’s service department now has six repair bays, said McLaughlin. The new facility will have 16.
Greg Cerbana, director of public relations for Kirkland-based Weidner Apartment Homes, said construction of his company’s Riverside9 Apartments, a 312-unit complex on the Wenatchee waterfront, meets the area’s urgent need for apartment rentals. This year, vacancy rates have hovered at 1 or 2 percent, down from a traditional average of 5 or 6 percent.
“Our company’s expanding into areas where we see the need,” said Cerbana. “We believe the Wenatchee area is ready for a development of this size and scope.”
He added, “All in all, the time is right.”