History lives in cottage reno

Published on Thu, Apr 18, 2002 by Jack Kintner

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History lives in cottage reno

By Jack Kintner

Anita Bishop of Blaine remembers the local bowling alley, “Blaine Lanes, I think it was called. And that old motel was right next door, near where the library is now.” The bowling alley is gone, but the motel, or parts of it, is still around.

In the late 50s when the freeway cut a swath through downtown Blaine, some of the cabins at the motel were moved to Birch Bay and became a part of the old Tide Flats grocery and resort on Birch Bay Drive just north of Cottonwood. Over time the property was divided and sold. The back row of eight cabins continued in use under various names, most recently the Starcrest Resort.

“I remember celebrating our daughter Marie’s thirteenth birthday there,” said Gale Bishop, Blaine’s high school basketball coach throughout the 50s and former Tide Flats owner with Anita. Marie, still in Blaine, remembers working in the Tide Flats grocery store and cleaning cabins with her mother in the summer.

The cabins sat empty for several years after Starcrest closed, but now have been completely renovated by their new owner, Preferred Funding of Kirkland, and though they’re for sale they also may be rented. Scott Solberg of Seattle, who spent boyhood summers with relatives in Birch Bay, coordinated the extensive renovations.

“We spent close to $100,000 just on the retaining wall behind the cabins,” Solberg said. “It’s 185 feet long, 15 feet high and has 360 concrete blocks that weigh over two tons each.”

The eight cabins are set in a double row facing on to Cottonwood Court, a half-block behind Birch Bay Drive. The cabins themselves all have new roofs and foundations, and have all been brought up to date. Each has a state-of-the-art kitchen with modern appliances, new wiring, plumbing throughout, and “hydronics” radiant hot-water heating systems. Many have new porches and all have new windows. The grounds have been groomed with red tile walkways and cedar lampposts.

“We wanted to make them into user-friendly condos,” said Solberg, “while preserving the feel of old-time tourist cabins.” Most of the old woodwork was saved, including the old-growth fir floors and decorative cedar trim and wall paneling. Period furnishings help to create an old but cozy feeling, but each also has cable TV and Internet connections.

Four of the cabins are two-bedroom units, one has three bedrooms and the other two have one bedroom. An overnight stay costs between $70 and $110 in the winter, rising to between $130 and $195 in the summer. They are located at 4973 Cottonwood Court. For information and reservations call toll-free 877/627-2229, or check their website at www.birchbaygetaway.com...

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