Goosefoot seeks ideas for Bayview Corner

LANGLEY — South Enders have a vision for the future of Bayview Center and it’s quite simple.

They want a place where they can buy underwear, get a gallon of milk or an extension cord without being rolled over by cars in the parking lot.

Goosefoot Community Fund talked to the community last week — meeting on Tuesday with a group of about 60 locals and on Thursday with a group of about

25 merchants — to shape its plans for the 9-acre property the nonprofit organization bought in 2005.

“People tell us, please make it a place of fundamental services,” said Christine Hurley, chief executive director for Goosefoot.

The corner is expected to become the home for more retail stores and is the future site of new paramedic quarters and a community clinic.

Goosefoot is currently coming up with ideas for the look and feel of the area, and the organization hopes to wrap up the planning process in 12 to 18 months.

A new challenge for Goosefoot is that the Bayview Center project has to pencil out financially.

Unlike the developer’s other project at Bayview Corner, the Bayview Center project is not being bankrolled by a philanthropic gift.

“Many people expect that if Goosefoot is developing, it’s with philanthropic magic,” Hurley said. “This is not. This is the real world.”

Goosefoot borrowed $8 million under a new market tax credit program to buy Bayview Center.

Goosefoot plans to create a total of 110,000 square feet of retail space at the land next to Highway 525; the shopping center currently has 32,000 square feet of retail space.

While the organization hopes to maximize the build-out of the property, it hopes to do it with the “Goosefoot feel.” Aesthetics, as well as environmentally-friendly buildings and operations, still top the list.

Current businesses at Bayview Center, including Casey’s Red Apple and Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe, have leases that run until 2009.

New leases will have to be negotiated then, Hurley said.

“We inherited tenants and building. We inherited their customers,” Hurley said. “We love our tenants.”

Not a lot of people know that the Goosefoot-owned space excludes some businesses in the Bayview Center area, including Sebo’s and the Exxon gas station.

Kim Tiller, owner of Whidbey Soap Company, was concerned that a massive amount of retail space would draw away customers from downtown Langley.

“We’re not interested in competing,” Hurley said. Goosefoot is looking at options that include groceries, hardware stores and basic services.

But many who attended the recent meetings had specific ideas about the quality of businesses that should be brought to Bayview.

Hurley also told audience members that chain stores such as Trader Joe’s are not likely to come to Bayview Center because the area didn’t have the population to sustain those businesses.

“They have their own standards,” Hurley said.

Some audience members said they wanted to see another Star Store or Payless brought to Bayview Center.

Others were concerned about the look of the project.

“Ken’s Korner is an atrocity,” said Cynthia Tilkin. “Make it look like a wonderful warm and fuzzy place.”

Hurley said Goosefoot is considering designs that are “community friendly.”

“We’re interested in a town center place,” she said.

Cheryl Salvati, owner of Whidbey Concierge Services, wanted to know if Goosefoot plans to rebuild from scratch or incorporate old buildings in the new design.

Hurley said Goosefoot hadn’t yet made any decisions.

A current tenant, Laurie Davenport of Casey’s Crafts, said with aging buildings Bayview Center has become uninviting.

“Bayview has lost its identity,” she said. “I would like to have identity come back.”

Others were concerned about the property across the street owned by Verlane Gabelein that is currently vacant. Some audience members were concerned that Goosefoot would develop a gem only to have another strip mall or storage business pop up across the street.

Hurley said Goosefoot plans to keep talking and working with neighbors to create a new and improved look for Bayview.

Goosefoot plans more community meetings as its planning process progresses.

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