Glass blowers and soap makers appear to have the inside track for the city’s vacant fire station on Second Street.
Mayor Paul Samuelson said at this week’s city council meeting that the city’s attorneys are drawing up leases with two tenants.
“Nothing’s set in stone, but we’re moving forward,” Samuelson said.
Glass artists Callahan McVay of Clinton and Bob Mitchell of Tulalip want to use the front portion of the station for a glass-blowing “hot shop” and gallery. They envision glass-blowing demonstrations along with classes and workshops.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Tiller and her son and business partner, David Tiller, propose to lease the rear portion of the fire station to expand their Whidbey Island Soap Company, which has been in operation on First Street since 2002.
They would use the space to make their soaps, lotions and other gifts, tasks they are currently doing in Clinton. They also propose a gift shop, tea shop, classroom and mild-weather outdoor tea garden.
The Tillers opened their retail business about nine years ago at the wharf in Coupeville, then moved to a shop in the Second Street Village in Langley, before shifting to First Street.
Samuelson said that besides being willing to pay rent, the prospective tenants said they would offer classes and demonstrations and otherwise interact with customers, which fits nicely with the city’s current “experiential” philosophy of economic development.
“‘Experiential’ is a really strong component for us right now,” the mayor said. “We really believe that that’s the type of economy paying dividends all over the country.”
Samuelson said that if a deal is worked out, the glass blowers and soap makers would share the rent and the center section of the building, which contains the lavatories and a kitchen.
“This has been a great economic driver for us,” he said. “I wish we had five fire halls.”