Photos by Dave Felice.
                                General contractor Damon Arndt says the old Visser Funeral Home chapel is being remodeling as a multi-purpose room for general community use. General contractor Damon Arndt describes remodeling of old funeral home into Soundview Wellness Center.

Photos by Dave Felice. General contractor Damon Arndt says the old Visser Funeral Home chapel is being remodeling as a multi-purpose room for general community use. General contractor Damon Arndt describes remodeling of old funeral home into Soundview Wellness Center.

Funeral home getting new life

A Langley couple is resurrecting a business that once provided end-of-life services as a place to help people live longer and healthier.

“There’s a poetic transition about taking a building that once focused on death and giving it new purpose focused on living better,” said Damon Arndt, general contractor for the reconstruction of the old Visser funeral home at Third and Park streets.

Arndt’s company, Next Generation Design and Build, is remodeling most of the interior of the 6,000-square-foot building to become the Soundview Center for Well-Being. Shannon Arndt, his wife, will move her existing Lone Lake Physical Therapy to the new building as the principal occupant.

As envisioned, Sound-view Center will provide traditional therapy, rehabilitation and pain management services.

There will be space for multiple wellness practitioners and specialized therapies such as Feldenkrais Method and aquatic therapy. Feldenkrais is a process of recognizing mind and body connections to improve physical movement and conscious awareness of how people move.

The remodeling already includes a private warm water swim-spa, and Shannon anticipates hiring a full-time aquatic therapist.

“We’re excited that we will be able to offer aquatic therapy,” she said.

“It’s a unique way to help people tolerate exercise and gain strength with less pain and improved balance.”

Damon said extensive rebuilding of the building’s interior is complex, but it usually costs less to repurpose an existing structure.

“I like the idea of re-use,” he said. “The city has been very supportive and cooperative.”

Using the building commercially is part of “neighborhood business” practice. Even though a business had operated previously on the site, it was technically necessary to re-zone the property for mixed use in a residential area.

“It’s a good location for us, and the neighbors have been very positive,” Damon said. “A physical therapy center integrates very well into the area. There are still a lot of details to work out, but the process has been smooth so far.”

Shannon and her staff look forward to the move.

“All the therapists at Lone Lake have advanced training in different methods to improve physical well-being,” she noted. “Sue Taves focuses on neurological rehabilitation. Connie Lloyd, a Feldenkrais practitioner, and Jessica Durr, a restorative exercise specialist, have extensive experience in ways of improving posture and movement.”

“Julie Gersten has 30-plus years experience in massage and shiatsu, as well as Feldenkrais certification.”

“My specialty is a technique called Counterstrain, which is a gentle hands-on technique that helps restore the body’s ability to heal.”

Damon said most of interior on the west side of the building, along Park Street, is being rebuilt.

“There were some structural deficiencies, and we really haven’t added any space to the existing footprint,” said Damon.

The original chapel is being retained as a general multi-purpose space, available for community use such as classes, meetings and special training.

“When we move to Soundview Center, we are going to expand our class offerings,” Shannon said. “We’ll continue with Julie’s Feldenkrais class, while adding other educational and movement-based training to improve balance and treat specific conditions. We’ll also partner with other organizations to host community events.”

The Arndts have owned the previously vacant building for about a year and a half.

Remodeling started in October. Opening is “a moving target,” but expected sometime in the summer, Damon said.

“This is a big undertaking for the two of us,” he said. “We don’t have investors.”

Remodeling includes landscaping for tranquil gardens on the east side.

There are about 30 parking spaces for clients. The building will be fully compliant with ADA, including parking, ramps and wider doorways.

Two one-bedroom residential apartments are included on the upper level of the north side of the building. Rental income will provide support to make the project economically viable.

With the building already on a promontory, the apartments will have a desirable view of Possession Sound and the Cascades.

Energy efficiency is part of the project.

“We’ve rebuilt parts of the roof to accommodate solar panels when the budget permits,” Damon said. “We’re using economical ductless heat pumps, and we’ve added insulation.”

He said the project has been a colloborative process with his wife and the therapy staff.

“They were my clients,” he said. “We’d look at what was lacking in the current space, brainstorm what was needed and keep reviewing the designs.”

Damon said the property was part of a homestead dating from 1908, but the building wasn’t really historic. The structure had been remodeled several times over the years.

The existing Lone Lake Physical Therapy building, about 1,000 square feet, eventually will be closed and repurposed as a residential accessory dwelling unit.

Damon is a licensed contractor, with educational degrees in architecture and structural engineering.

<em>The general appearance of the old Visser Funeral Home doesn’t change much with remodeling. The building at 3rd Street and Park in Langley is being repurposed as Soundview Center for Well-Being.</em>

The general appearance of the old Visser Funeral Home doesn’t change much with remodeling. The building at 3rd Street and Park in Langley is being repurposed as Soundview Center for Well-Being.