Because of its arch out front, numerous people have driven up and asked if a McDonald’s is being built on the site of a longtime tire shop near the Goose Community Grocery. “Our goal is to not have it look like the tire shop is was,” said Smokey McClure, who is building offices and a showroom for his construction company, McClure Custom Homes. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Because of its arch out front, numerous people have driven up and asked if a McDonald’s is being built on the site of a longtime tire shop near the Goose Community Grocery. “Our goal is to not have it look like the tire shop is was,” said Smokey McClure, who is building offices and a showroom for his construction company, McClure Custom Homes. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

It’s an arch but it’s not golden

Renovation of tire store has people guessing

Hold the fries, South Whidbey.

Your fast food franchise fears are unfounded.

That’s not a McDonald’s, Olive Garden, Applebee’s or any kind of restaurant moving into the former Whidbey Tire & Auto Service on Howard Road next to the Goose Community Grocery.

It may look like it could be a lot of things — yoga center, art gallery, pot palace.

Wrong again.

It’s being renovated into offices — really nice offices — and a show room for the general contracting company, McClure Custom Homes. The company, owned by husband and wife team, Smokey and Leilani McClure, bought GemKow Construction in 2016 and are now in the process of changing the business name.

Yes, the building has an front entry archway, but it won’t be golden.

“I had one lady call saying she was just making sure it wasn’t a McDonald’s,” said Leilani McClure, who is the company’s office manager and controller. “Her tone sounded like she’d throw a fit if it was a McDonald’s.”

Other rumors the couple heard — it’s a new El Corral Mexican restaurant, an Olive Garden or an upscale Applebee’s, if that’s even possible.

The building is attractive inside and out to show clients what they can design and build. Subcontractors will be able to show off their products in a showroom. Design elements, such as Venetian plaster, innovative flooring, double-sided fireplace, will be placed throughout the space.

“We’re just trying to show people what we’re capable of,” said Smokey McCLure, who has built residential and commercial properties for 26 years, most recently around Puget Sound and Lake Washington.

“I’ve heard people say it’s too fancy for offices,” he add. “Our goal is to not have it look like the tire shop is was.”

Walking down the front of the building, he points out where six garage bay doors once opened to an endless stream of cars for nearly four decades.

Owner Dana Gildersleeve decided to close Whidbey Tire and sell the property in December 2017. Since 1980, he and his father had worked at the location and were well known around South Whidbey.

The Goodyear tire slogan long affixed above its front door is gone.

The auto bays are now divided up into rooms inside. On the exterior, they’ve been replaced with windows that shimmer with a special kind of glass that looks dark bronze in sunlight and provides some privacy.

A wooden sloping arch in front and stucco finish help transform the auto shop from its former bland box shape into a more attractive three-dimensional property. The interior is still in the framing stage but it’s obvious from the ceiling design that it will be a different kind of office space.

“It’s called a barrel vault ceiling,” Leilani McClure said, pointing up at the narrow curved framework and domed spaces.

The McClures say they started with just six employees when they bought GemKow and now have 20 working on several new builds and renovations around Whidbey. They retained Gemkow Construction long-time employee John Rogers as company project manager.

“Business is crazy,” Leilani McClure said. “There’s just not enough inventory to buy so people are building.”

Leilani and Smokey McClure stand in front of on-going renovations of the former Whidbey Tire & Auto Center that they are turning into offices and a showroom for their construction company. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

Leilani and Smokey McClure stand in front of on-going renovations of the former Whidbey Tire & Auto Center that they are turning into offices and a showroom for their construction company. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group

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