Freeland partners plan gas station complex

"Right now, it's just a wet, grassy corner at a Freeland crossroads.But by the end of next summer, a piece of land at the corner of Fish Road and Highway 525 could be the home of a new gas station, car wash, convenience store, speed lube business, and additional retail space.Freeland business partners Mick Olsen, Terry Otey, and Gordon Koetje are trying to make their dream of a new Freeland Exxon happen at the well-driven intersection. The land they plan to develop is in one of Island County's new rural center zones, areas which are designated for commercial activities.Even so, said developer Mick Olsen, the partnership's plan to get the station up and running has been delayed several months by Island County's permitting process.We're struggling through the permit process, Olsen said Thursday. I think we will prevail.At present, the partners have an approved grading permit, under which they can begin to move in 14,000 cubic yards of fill. But they have to wait for additional permits before they can build any structures on the land. The proposed gas station site is currently a man-made wetland of sorts, he said, used by the state for highway drainage. Olsen said the state will shift its drainage to another nearby site, allowing Olsen and his partners to drain and ditch the gas station site for commercial use.By mid-spring, Olsen said he hopes to begin building a 3,500-square-foot convenience store with four gas pump islands, a car wash, a 6,000-square-foot retail space, and a building for the speed lube business. He said he and his partners are currently searching for businesses to rent the large retail space, and for a speed lube franchise interested in being part of this proposed automotive center.Olsen, who owns a general contracting business in Freeland, said he and his partners plan to own and operate the gas station and related businesses themselves, and have no plans to roll the automotive center in a quick sale to another party. The center should open for business by late next summer, Olsen said."

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