1873 building in downtown Port Townsend getting a face-lift
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The replacement of the Eisenbeis Building’s facade — now covered to protect workers from the weather — is expected to take three to four months. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Three years after a historic building was seized by the bank, its new owner is renovating its facade and completing improvements planned by previous owners.

The renovation is a positive indicator for Water Street, according to the real estate agent whose company brokered its recent sale.

“This is a good start for the new year,” said Michelle Sandoval, former mayor and Port Townsend City Council who is also listed as a member of the company that owns the building.

“It represents the resurgence of Water Street,” Sandoval said.

The sale of the building was finalized on Dec. 26 to a newly-created corporation known as Port Townsend Associates LLC.

The amount paid was about $900,000, a price that Sandoval called “a bargain.”

Kirk Lanterman, a Seattle venture capitalist, is listed as the principal of the corporation, and Sandoval is listed as a member, according to the Washington secretary of state’s website.

The scaffold in front of the Eisenbeis Building at 830 Water Street — covered in plastic to protect workers from the weather — will remain in place for three or four months, Sandoval said.

The entire front of the building will be taken off and replaced, Sandoval said.

During this time, the building’s sole tenant, Jonglo, will remain open for business.

“It’s important that people know they’re still open because it will be hard to get to the store,” Sandoval said.

The facade reconstruction’s contractor is STS Construction Services, Seattle, and its five-person crew is staying in the condos during the duration of the project.

The renovation of the ground floor retail space is a separate project and will be done at a later date, according to STS supervisor Rob Larkin.

The building was purchased in 2005 for $4.4 million by Marlies Egberding and Ritch Sorgen, operating as Cracker Factory, with the goal of creating a shared retail and residence space.

The renovation included the construction of nine luxury condominiums but none were sold during the economic downturn that began in 2008, according to Sandoval.

“These were good people who had good ideas,” Sandoval said. “They were victims of the economy.”

Egberderg and Sorgen lost the building in 2009 and it has been for sale since that time.

The bank holding the note, Frontier Bank, was itself closed and absorbed into Union Bank in 2010.

Charles Eisenbeis constructed the building that still bears his name, the first stone building in Port Townsend, in 1873 as a 20-foot by 60-foot single story structure, according to the Jefferson County Historical Society.

Since that time, it has been a clothing store, a hotel, movie theater and hardware store.

“It will be great to see this building finished,” Sandoval said.

“[The previous owners] did a beautiful job on the inside.”

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 23. 2013 6:17PM
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