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Business Roundup: Numerica branch getting a makeover

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Prototype of new Numerica branch buildings set for construction this year in East Wenatchee, Richland and Sprague.

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East Wenatchee

Numerica branch getting a makeover

The Numerica branch here will soon be zipping into the 21st century with a new banking concept that includes iPads and cookies (the crumbly kind, not the computer kind).

The Spokane-based credit union — with 18 branches in eastern Washington and northern Idaho — has big plans for the eastside branch that includes razing the current building and constructing a new one from scratch.

The new concept focuses on openness and transparency,” said Kelli Hawkins, Numerica’s communications manager. “We want our customers to walk in and feel comfortable and welcome.”

The new 3,784-square-foot building will be “bright, open and even relaxing,” said Hawkins. It’ll include a tech bar with iPads for customers to access online banking, learn about Numerica services or check their email. It’ll feature a refreshment bar with coffee, cookies, water and other snacks. It’ll have comfortable chairs and a few sofas. (No napping in the lobby, however.)

These changes means that East Wenatchee’s Numerica will need to relocate services and its seven employees while the new building takes shape. They moved on May 30 or 31 to a temporary space across the street in Eastpoint Plaza, 509 Grant Road, the location of Glaze Doughnuts, Mountain View Fitness and Jack in the Box. Operating hours are likely to shift, too.

Numerica officials are estimating the new building will open sometime in early 2015.

Wenatchee

Pybus receives honor for revitalization

The Pybus Public Market last month received the Excellence on Main Award, one of the state’s top honors for community redevelopment, revitalization and preservation.

The award was presented May 7 to executives of the $9 million waterfront development at RevitalizeWA, the annual conference of the state’s Main Street Program held here at the Pybus Events Center.

The Pybus project, a retail and restaurant hub in a rehabbed steel fabrication plant, is a result of a partnership that included the Port of Chelan County, city of Wenatchee and business couple Mike and JoAnn Walker, chief proponents and financial backers of the project. The Pybus Market celebrated its 1-year anniversary in May.

Pybus “exemplifies the power of public and private investment resulting in an amazing asset to the community,” said Sarah Hansen, Main Street Program coordinator. “The partners’ vision, dedication and tenacity have made Pybus Market an economic success and point of pride in the Wenatchee Valley.”

For more info on the Main Street Program and the award, contact Hansen at (206) 624-9449.

Wenatchee

Sephora adds luster to J.C. Penney

Nadia Urias of Quincy once drove hours to find Sephora cosmetics at stores in Yakima, Seattle and Spokane. So she was giddy to drive just 30 minutes for the opening here May 2 of one of Sephora’s newest outlets.

I love this brand,” she said, expertly applying eye shadow amid the bustle of a huge grand-opening crowd. “I love Sephora.”

Urias was one of hundreds of customers who swept into the new Sephora, a 2,200-square-foot store-within-a-store at J.C. Penney at Valley North Center. Store execs estimated nearly 600 women — including this year’s royalty of the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival — waited in line for the 10 a.m. opening. Hundreds more arrived later.

The first 100 customers were handed Sephora gift cards with mystery values of up to $100, while the first 750 received gift bags filled with samples and coupons. Free cosmetic assessments for customers were available as time allowed.

Sephora is a French cosmetic company with more than 1,800 stores around the world and nearly 500 in J.C. Penney stores around the country. On May 2, 30 new Sephora outlets opened in J.C. Penney stores scattered from coast to coast. The stores stock over 50 brands, including the Sephora’s trademarked products, and offers advice on how to use them.

Wenatchee was simply ready for this,” said Kristi Slotemaker, a Sephora field leader. “We look at this crowd and know that Wenatchee is a fashion center for central Washington. A lot of local residents are here having serious fun, but we’ve also attracted many women from around a huge region.”

For more info, call J.C. Penney at 663-2121 or visit sephora.com.

Wenatchee

Bob’s is back with updated dining room and bar

A favorite downtown restaurant and bar has risen from (sort of) the ashes.

Bob’s Classic Brass and Brew — the place with the ’57 Chevy poking out of the roof — reopened here in April with a completely new kitchen and updated interior. “We’re glad to be back in business and serving customers,” said owner Pete Kuske.

An early-morning fire in January pretty much wrecked Bob’s kitchen and spread smoke damage through the seating area and sports bar.

Posh updates in the dining room and bar now include leather wall panels, cherry wood paneling and glass wine display cases. A dining alcove at the rear of restaurant has also been lined with leather-and-cherry-wood panels. “We didn’t do a major overhaul of the interior,” said Kuske, “but we’ve added some nice accents, some really nice touches.”

Details: Bob’s Classic Brass and Brew, 110 Second St., Wenatchee. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Serving daily specials. Phone: 663-3954.

East Wenatchee

Highline to close after 82 years of nursing care

Highline Care Center, one of the oldest nursing homes in the Wenatchee Valley, will close in coming months and relocate its residents to other facilities, officials for the company announced this week.

The 60 residents of the 82-year-old long-term care center will move from the 92-bed facility by late summer. That will allow conversion of the building into a memory care center that could open by the end of 2015.

Many factors are contributing to this decision,” said Rick Roedel, executive director of Colonial Care Group, the parent company of Highline Care Center. “Our industry is changing rapidly, which means we’re rethinking how to meet community needs and provide the best care possible.”

Highline’s services of long-term care and rehab therapies will be consolidated with those of its sister facility, Colonial Vista Retirement & Assisted Living in Wenatchee. About half of Highline’s residents are expected to move to Colonial Vista, with remaining residents moving to other facilities with relocation help from Highline staff and caseworkers of the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Highline Care Center, 600 Highline Drive in East Wenatchee, has 130 employees, many of them part-time, said Roedel. Some employees will be hired at Colonial Vista to help with the increased number of residents, he said, but others will lose their jobs.

Highline, Colonial Vista and seven other facilities across the Northwest are part of the Colonial Care Group, formerly Triple C Healthcare, which is owned by local businessman Carl Campbell and family members.

Highline was opened by nurse Julia Brenner in 1932 as the Highline Nursing Home. It became the Highline Sanitarium in 1947 and was turned over to the Diocese of Yakima in 1959. The Campbells bought the facility in 1975 and expanded it in 1985.

Roedel said Highline’s closure and redevelopment into a memory care center follows a national trend in senior care that marks a shift from traditional nursing homes, which served a broad range of conditions, to variations on the assisted-living concept that could include memory care, extended nursing care and even hospice care until a resident’s death.

There’s been a dramatic surge in assisted-living facilities here,” he said. “Many are wondering, in fact, if we’ve reached the saturation point in the Wenatchee Valley.”

Roedel said residents moving from Highline to Colonial Vista will find some of the valley’s most advanced care and rehab therapies, including renovation of the long-term care wing, expanded number of short-term care rooms for stays of a week to 60 days and a saltwater pool for aquatic workouts and physical therapy.

Highline’s conversion to a memory care center also follows national trends, he said. “As patients live longer and the senior population grows, an increasing number of seniors will experience some level of dementia,” said Roedel. In coming years, as many as 20 percent of seniors could need extra care for memory loss, he estimated.

We can see now that’s where the community’s needs — and the industry’s growth — will occur,” said Roedel. “We’re shifting, too, to meet demands of the changing population.”

Wenatchee

Pro bicyclist pedals his way to Wenatchee

Professional mountain biker Evan Plews has lived in the Wenatchee Valley for only 10 months, but he’s got the place pegged.

What’s exciting about Wenatchee,” he said, “is that people here love where they live and want to invest in it.” Of course, he’s talking about the area’s network of mountain bike trails and the big plans by a couple of groups to develop even more.

Plews is a mountain biker through and through — sells bikes, fixes bikes, designs bikes, tests bikes, promotes biking — and his new Ridge Cyclesport, which opened in February, has quickly become a hub for mountain biking in the region.

The 37-year-old pedaler and his wife Caroll (a manager at Central Washington Hospital) moved here last August with the inkling to open a bike shop way in the back of their minds. But everything — financing, location, interest from local bikers — came together quickly. By November, they were drawing floor plans and ordering inventory.

At Ridge Cyclesport, Plews repairs just about any bike and sells high-performance models from KHS, Devinci and Ibis, an iconic brand that’s the dream of many trail riders. Prices for “a legitimate mountain bike, one that’s trailworthy with hydraulic brakes” start at around $800, said Plews. But eager mountain bike enthusiasts often spend closer to $3,000.

And when you spend that much for a two-wheeler, “you definitely want to try it out, see how it feels,” said the bike shop owner. He lets customers test-ride the bikes on local trails to see “if it’s the perfect fit.”

When it comes to sales, we specialize in mountain bikes and kids bikes,” he said. “I really want to get kids into biking — provide them with their very first bike in what could become a lifelong sport for them.”

So what makes Plews a “professional” mountain biker? He discovered mountain biking at age 9 and just wouldn’t stop pedaling. His first job as a teenager was in a bike shop. So were his second and third jobs. His college degree is in structural engineering (think bike frames and stress points). He won the state mountain bike racing championship here in 2003 on trails around Squilchuck State Park. That led the following year to his professional status — races, sponsors, travel, endorsements — and sparked the idea to maybe, one day, move to Wenatchee.

Now he’s excited about plans to expand the region’s network of mountain bike trails. Groups are working to further develop trails at Squilchuck State Park and build a new set of trails above No. 2 Canyon west of Wenatchee.

Big things are in the works,” he said. “And it’s very exciting.”

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Alcoa and union reach labor agreement

Alcoa and the United Steelworkers union reached a tentative agreement late May 15 on a new five-year labor contract covering 6,100 workers at 11 company plants, including Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works.

The new agreement, which replaces a four-year contract that expired Thursday, covers about 370 of the 460 Alcoa employees in Wenatchee, said company spokesman Jens Lee. Other affected plants are in Indiana, Texas, Iowa, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York and Arkansas.

We have reached a package that is positive for our employees and competitive for our business,” said Bob Wilt, Alcoa executive vice president. He managed Wenatchee Works for five years before joining the corporate office in 2007.

The union’s local presidents voted unanimously to recommend that members ratify the agreement, said a United Steelworkers press release. Details of the contract have been withheld until local union chapters approve the agreement in votes scheduled through June.

This agreement includes solid gains in wages and retirement security,” said union Vice President Tom Conway. The contract also preserves health care benefits for active and retired union members, he said.

Wenatchee

Army surplus store aims to outfit customers with fun, practical gear

How do you transform an old empty warehouse into a first-rate Army surplus store?

First, you “militarize” the walls with 45 gallons of OD (olive drab) paint. Second, you fill the place with thousands of items — ammo, fatigues, helmets, knives, ponchos, trench diggers — many in the regulation colors of camo and khaki.

Yeah, there’s a lot of camo in here,” smiled Dale Launer, who along with wife Sharon owns D&L Army Surplus and its sister business D&L’s RV Center in north Wenatchee. “We look around the country for stuff that’s interesting and different, and a lot of it comes in tactical-ready camo.”

Launer opened the surplus store 18 months ago in a tiny back room next to his RV dealership, but learned quickly from the enthusiastic customer response that he’d probably need to expand sooner than later.

In April, he opened the surplus store’s new 5,200-square-foot location in a South Wenatchee warehouse that previously housed the hardware store Fasteners Inc., which moved last year to East Wenatchee.

I’ve had a fascination with Army surplus gear since I was a kid,” said the 62-year-old Launer. “I’d go into surplus stores and be amazed at all the cool stuff you could buy — knives, canteens, gas masks — all the gear that would catch a kid’s attention. I’m still fascinated by it.”

Launer and fellow scouts scour the country for new, used and surplus items. He’s part of a network of other army surplus store owners, dealers and Armed Forces contacts who monitor the flow of surplus military matériel and related non-military items. That ebb and flow varies, he said, depending on military expansion, cutbacks, base closures, gear obsolescence and changing Armed Forces’ policies.

That’s one of the neat things about this business,” said Launer. “You never quite know what you might find next. It’s changing all the time.”

Right now, D&L Army Surplus is packed — but orderly — with inventory that includes bayonets, body armor, medical kits, flags, binoculars, a wide assortment of tactical gloves, parkas, M-65 field jackets (“very popular,” said Launer), lightweight desert boots and other styles, tons of hats, Army regulation wool blankets, coils of paracord, shovels, backpacks, mess kits, bored-out (non-explosive) grenades, gas masks, shovels and clothing (official military items and non-military) for men, women (yes, pink camo) and children (check out the bomber jackets for tykes).

One back room showcases surplus furniture — dressers, tables, trunks — from military bases. Another room is stacked high with ammo cases. “Most are rubber-sealed and waterproof,” said Launer. “You can store all kinds of things in an ammo case.”

East Wenatchee

What to do with an old Texaco station?

Remodel it? Demolish it? Or leave it alone?

Discussion on what to do with a messy corner lot in downtown East Wenatchee sparked a wide range of ideas from business folks and residents May 6 during a brainstorming session of the city’s planning commission.

Formerly a Texaco station, the 20,500-square-foot lot and its three structures at the corner of Ninth Street and Valley Mall Parkway could be a key location in the much-discussed redevelopment of the city’s old downtown, said city officials.

Most people agree that right now it’s an eyesore,” said Commission Chairman Norm Nelson. “But it could be something better.”

Dubbed the Gateway Project, redevelopment of the property fits into the city’s slowly evolving plan to revitalize the downtown, a two-block stretch of 1930s-era buildings that’s struggled in recent years as businesses have closed or relocated.

Lori Barnett, the city’s community development director, said the city council has already earmarked $391,000 for purchase of the property and sent an inquiry to the property owner. “We’ll see where it goes,” she said.

At last month’s meeting, Barnett presented photos and architectural drawings that showed how other cities had rehabbed old gas stations for public use. Most were converted into public spaces — parks and plazas — for gathering, strolling and public events.

Twenty people at the planning commission meeting broke into smaller groups to brainstorm ideas and come up with suggestions for the local property. They included:

Convert the gas station into a visitors center with restrooms, benches and picnic tables.

Rehab the property into a paved plaza for public events such as concerts, stage performances, a farmers market, art shows and sports rallies.

Remodel the gas station into a small, multi-use event center to attract gatherings of 40 to 60 people.

Clear away the buildings and make the property into a park.

Back off from any city purchase of the property and let free enterprise determine its use. If still in private ownership, the buildings and property could house new businesses such as, suggested one participant, a Starbucks.

East Wenatchee

Eastside parking lot to get high-tech facelift

A year from now, visitors to downtown East Wenatchee may find its rehabbed parking lot to be one of the commercial strip’s most spiffy features.

On May 6, the city unveiled preliminary plans for retrofitting downtown’s central parking lot with a high-tech drainage system, tree-planted landscaping, a 20-by-40-foot mini plaza, updated lighting, an improved pedestrian crossing and even an area designated for school kids’ charity car washes.

From the start, we’ve tried to design a people-place,” said Brandon Mauseth, manager of the city’s Land and Water Resource Program. “We’ve designed with aesthetics, landscaping and practicality in mind.”

Mauseth presented the parking lot’s basic design to the city’s planning commission, emphasizing that only about 30 percent of the design process has been completed toward a finish date of Aug. 1. After that, the city will call for bids and a contractor chosen to retrofit the lot by the summer of 2015.

Last year, the state Department of Ecology awarded the city a $120,000 grant to come up with a cutting-edge design for handling stormwater drainage on the lot. Currently, rainwater and snowmelt drain from the lot into the street and adjacent gutters. The state wants better, more contained drainage to handle the lot’s run-off mix of dirt, oil drippings, fuel leaks and other possible pollutants.

Mauseth said the new retrofitted lot would use porous asphalt and concrete that allow water to seep straight down from the parking surface. The lot would be lined with landscaping elements that remove silt and pollution from runoff water, and the car-wash area would be drained directly into the area’s sewer system.

Depending on the amenities approved by the city council, construction of the project could cost from $285,000 to $460,000. Mauseth said the city hopes for state funding to pay for stormwater improvements, but upgrades unrelated to drainage would need to be paid for by the city — which could add up to $100,000 or more.

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