WALLY'S WORLD: Downtown Enumclaw shows signs of life

If you’re a summer tourist just passing through Enumclaw for the first time, your impressions of the town might be a bit negative, especially if you’re driving north on Cole Street. The four vacant storefronts between Griffin and Initial avenues might lead you to believe the town is dying or, at least, has been particularly hard hit by the recession.

Well, I’m happy to report,the face of Cole Street is about to change and it’s for the better. In the relatively near future (whatever that means), businesses will begin to relocate and re-emerge, eliminating some of the empty storefronts.

You may have noticed, the large building that formerly housed the Antique Mall – and, of course, before that J. C. Penney – has been stripped down to its essential framework and support beams, leaving little more than an empty shell. Within the next few months, the place will be outfitted with new, carefully designed and organized cubicles and, like the Phoenix, a new antique store will rise from the ashes. Antique dealers will rent the individual stalls to display their collectibles. (I would hope this reincarnation isn’t too slick and tidy because much of the appeal of the old place came from its jumbled setting.)

Further down Cole Street (or is it up?), you’ll find the Cole Street Bar and Grill, formerly known as the Hornets’ Nest. It’s the latest of a number of restaurants that have tried this location. (Go back 50 or 60 years and the place was a tire shop my uncle used to own.) Restaurants have a difficult time at this site, apparently because it’s removed from what little “action” there is in our town’s main intersection. But Javier and Tracy are giving it a first-class college try. They’ve opened a lounge with a pleasant, little bar and a very reasonable and lengthy happy hour. You might stop by some TGIF.

Further up Cole Street (or is it down?), you’ll find the building once occupied by the Maple Thicket also has been gutted. (Go back 50 or 60 years, as is my tendency in these last few columns, and it was home for Collins Ford.) This building will shortly become the new site for Plateau Outreach Ministries, housing its food bank and other social services, along with its gift shop, More Pennies From Heaven. POM will be making a short move from its present location across from the post office.

And finally, 1528 Cole St., former location of the scrapbook store and, more recently, Lindon Bookstore, has been empty for the last several months. (Go back 50 or 60 years and it was Knight’s Pharmacy, which offered Enumclaw’s finest selection of comic books.) Well, I’ve good news and tidings of joy! This site will shortly become the new home of Sip City Wine and we can be reasonably certain this business will prosper.

So, three of the presently vacant storefronts will shortly be occupied. That’s good cosmetic surgery that will improve the town’s appearance. Of course, it won’t actually improve this region’s economy one iota. But lay your fears to rest, our president has assured us prosperity is just around the corner.

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