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Auction block looms large for Langley's Dog House Tavern

Time is running out on Langley’s historic Dog House Tavern. Its fate appears destined for a date next month on the county courthouse steps.

Cash-strapped owners of the First Street icon have been unable to find a buyer, and the three-level cornerstone of the city’s seaside heritage is scheduled to be auctioned off along with everything inside on April 23.

Meanwhile, hundreds of area residents have rallied to try to preserve the 102-year-old building, and leaders of the effort are trying to find a way to purchase the property, at auction or afterward.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” said Kim Norton, a Clinton business consultant, who along with Langley technology consultant Aaron Racicot is trying to rescue the Dog.

“The community really wants this property to stay the way it is,” Norton added Monday, “to get the ol’ Dog House back up and running.”

According to a legal advertisement in Saturday’s Record, the auction will be at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 23, outside the main door of the Island County Courthouse, 101 N.E. Sixth St. in Coupeville.

The Langley landmark, a fixture in the city since 1908, has been on the market for years. It’s owned by Wendy Jacobs and has an assessed value of about $720,000.

Jacobs’ father Pete, who was the driving spirit behind the Dog House, died in 2006, and the tavern began to go downhill. It closed in spring 2009.

The property has been listed for sale by Richard W. Watson Realty of Seattle, at a recently reduced list price of $779,000.

Chesterfield Mortgage Investors of Seattle holds the lien on the building. The debt on the lien is $500,000 plus costs, according to the auction notice. The notice said the Jacobs family is behind five monthly payments at $7,500 each.

With taxes and other fees, the owners are more than $50,700 in arrears, not counting the $500,000 note, the notice said.

The owners have until April 12 to settle the debt and call off the auction, according to the legal notice.

Steve Sullivan of Chesterfield Mortgage said in January that if no buyer comes forward, the mortgage company would bid on the property and then try to sell it.

Originally called the Olympic Club when it was built in 1908, the three-story building had a gymnasium on the lower floor, with a stage and auditorium on the top floor. It also housed a general store before becoming the Dog House Tavern at the end of Prohibition.

It’s the only building in Langley on the National Register of Historic Places.

Paul Sarkis, owner of Village Pizzeria in downtown Langley, has been pursuing the property, but has been unable to swing a deal. He said recently that he had spent $18,000 in research and surveys.

Sarkis said the building, which has three floors of about 2,300 square feet each, has fallen into disrepair and would require as much as $400,000 to bring it up to standards.

He said in January that if he were to acquire the property, he would move his pizzeria into the basement, would maintain the floor above as a restaurant and tavern, and would perhaps lease the upper floor as a residence or office.

Norton said that since an organizational meeting in January, more than 1,500 people have joined a Facebook page dedicated to preserving the Dog House.

The effort also has a Web site, www.langleydoghouse.com, and Twitter and Google accounts.

Norton said proponents may try to form a nonprofit group in order to solicit pledges to buy the tavern and preserve it. Organizers suggested in January that if 200 people put up $5,000 each, $1 million could be raised for the project. Or if 100 people contributed $10,000 each.

She said that even if the money can’t be raised before the auction, the Dog House might turn out to be cheaper afterward.

“Our hope is for enough interest to actually get there,” Norton said of the drive to rescue the tavern.

“If we can, we can. If we can’t, we tried.”

Norton can be reached at 341-4606 or kim@jetcityconsulting.com.

Racicot can be reached at 221-2441 or aaronr@z-pulley.com.

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