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City hears plans for Batterby building
By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald
As the city of Enumclaw sorts out its options for the huge building formerly occupied by Industrial Skills, several suitors have expressed an interest in the hulking warehouse on Battersby Avenue.
During a public hearing on Aug. 11, the City Council heard three proposals - and more may be coming, as the council extended its hearing until Monday's meeting. That session begins at 7:30 p.m. in council chamber at City Hall, 1339 Griffin Ave. Anyone with a desire to use the building is invited to make their intentions known.
The building originally housed commercial operations, but was, in recent years, home to Industrial Skills, a sheltered workshop for those with mental and/or physical disabilities. The city had accepted state money and purchased the building, with the understanding it be used for a program to help the developmentally delayed. After a number of years, however, the property was turned over to the city with no strings attached - and, when Industrial Skills ran into funding difficulties and eventually abandoned the site, responsibility for the building landed in the city's lap.
Hundreds of boxes of goods, which had been donated to Industrial Skills, were cleaned out and the building (43,000 square feet) is now essentially ready for new tenants.
The most ambitious proposal heard on Aug. 11 came from a Carnation, Wash.-based group that would like to turn the building into a three-phase operation, all agriculturally-related. One part of the building could be home to a poultry-processing plant, the council was told, while another portion housed a year-round farmers market and another part was turned into a "food innovation center" as part of a partnership with Washington State University.
The benefits of such an undertaking, the council was told, would be in employment, tourism and continuation of Enumclaw's reputation as a center for agriculture.
Organizers are seeking grant funding to study the feasibility of such an operation, so nothing could happen for at least six to 10 months, the council was told.
A more immediate proposal was given by Bill Marcum, publisher of The Courier-Herald. He said the newspaper would like to rent about 2,000 square feet of the Battersby building for 10 to 12 months, while its new home is under construction. Owners of the Courier-Herald building on Cole Street will soon demolish the present structure and rebuild on the same site.
Marcum said the newspaper operation could be ready to move in six to eight weeks, assuming the Battersby building could handle its requirements (adequate phone lines and Internet access, for example).
A final proposal came from those who put on Enumclaw's annual haunted house, a fund-raising event that makes heavy use of high school students and pumps money back into the community.
Primary organizer Stan Osborn said the haunted house has made great strides over the years, but suffers from the lack of a permanent home. He requested the city set aside 9,000 square feet, which would be turned into a haunted house in October and used for storage the rest of the year.
Kevin Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org