Developer Ken Imus begins Peace Portal project

Published on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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After completing the purchase of one downtown landmark, Bellingham developer Ken Imus has begun refurbishing part of another property he owns, the old Wolten and Montfort Red Apple supermarket building at 638 Peace Portal Drive on the southeast corner of its intersection with G Street.

Earlier this month Imus, through his Jacaranda Land and Development Corporation, also purchased the building that houses Goff’s department store on the same block at 674 Peace Portal Drive. The Goff family plans to close the business at the end of August. Imus said that though he has no business tenants at this time, one possibility is to open up store fronts on what is now the alley behind business that front on Peace Portal Drive.

“These are dreams, though, not promises,” Imus said. “They’re things we might be able to do now that we have enough property in the central business block to proceed, along with a few others. So we’re not looking for investors, but we are looking for tenants.”

Imus is well-known for having led development in the Fairhaven district in Bellingham, for which he won the Whatcom County lifetime business achievement award in 2007. “Blaine is going to happen, it’s just a question of when,” Imus said. “Because of the proximity to the water, the freeway and the border. It could conceivably become the Santa Barbara of the north.”

The current project underway in what’s also known as the Worldly Treasures building, after the last business to occupy the site, focuses on the northern third of the 15,000 square foot brick clad building. Jacaranda president Brad Imus said that plans call for adding a second 5,000 square foot story topped with a tower on the southeast corner that will rise 36 feet above street level.

“The limit there is 46 feet,” said Blaine’s community planning director Terry Galvin, “and with some of the adjustments they’re willing to make they could go higher.”

As to the tower, Brad Imus said that they’re intending to design an “attention grabber, something that will stand out on that corner but be in keeping with Blaine’s turn-of-the-century feel.”

“We want to make it an anchor, visually as well as in terms of how people move and feel about downtown,” said Salt Lake City architect Kathleen Hill, in charge of design. Her firm is also involved with the Port of Bellingham’s designs for Blaine Harbor.

Brad Imus said that there’s no firm timetable for completion.

Preliminary sketches call for an exterior that resembles a bank building, something that originally occupied the site. Minnesota native Paul Wolten founded a business next door in 1892 that became Wolten and Montfort’s Grocery and Hardware in 1909 and eventually took over the bank property when the grocery expanded. It was sold in 1986 to Brown and Cole and was eventually renamed the Blaine Thriftway.