A large vacant lot that has stood out like a sore thumb in Oak Harbor for more than a decade may soon be filled with two new businesses.
According to a public notice from the city of Oak Harbor, dated Aug. 6, a company called Serj Car Wash LLC is proposing to redevelop the 2.39 acre site on Highway 20 at Pioneer Way. The company plans to build a Sonic Drive-In and a Glint Car Wash.
The lot has been vacant since 2011 when the Whidbey Island Ford dealership, which closed in 2008, was demolished.
Developers with plans for the site have come and gone over the years.
The Whidbey News-Times reported in 2013 that a pre-application was submitted to the city to build a McDonald’s restaurant on the lot, but the project never came to fruition. Later that same year, workers removed contaminated dirt from the location, which was the result of a leaky fuel tank at the Ford Dealership.
In 2014, another company submitted a pre-application to build a Rite-Aid and an unnamed restaurant, but, again, the project didn’t work out.
Serj Car Wash LLC is located in Orange, California. According to their website, Serj owns four Glint Car Wash locations in Washington state and several Sonic Drive-In locations in both Kansas and Washington. The owner of Serj could not be reached for comment.
According to the application, the proposed Glint Car Wash in Oak Harbor would be 4,850 square feet and Sonic Drive-In would be 1,908 square feet.
A post from Aug. 7 in the Whidbey Island Community Facebook group attracted a lot of attention; it has a total of 464 comments as of Aug. 11.
Some comments are in favor of the proposal, citing the importance of growth and new businesses in Oak Harbor, including the need for another car wash. Others have a problem with the fact that Sonic is a chain restaurant and there is already another car wash nearby.
Glint Car Wash has locations in Marysville and Kent, and two future locations in Everett and Chehalis, according to the Glint Car Wash website. The closest Sonic location is in Marysville.
Oak Harbor Senior Planner Ray Lindenburg wrote in an email that the project will be reviewed by city staff and presented to a hearing examiner for review based on city ordinance regarding zoning, aesthetics, landscaping, and development standards.
“It is important to note that developers determine the type of companies to place on properties based on market research regarding which businesses will be successful in the community and zoning requirements,” Lindenburg wrote. “City staff has no role in determining which businesses to place in particular locations. The application process will allow city staff to identify and work with the developer to address any concerns identified by city staff in the ordinances or by the public in the public notification process.”
The city of Oak Harbor is collecting feedback from this proposed development project on its website until Aug. 19.