EVERETT — Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber hopes that, in a year or two, residents will be meeting at “the Muse” for a cup of coffee or a round of craft cocktails.
The Weyerhaeuser Muse, that is.
Port officials are soliciting ideas from investors for the reuse of the historic Weyerhaeuser building, nicknamed for its legacy of inspiring entrepreneurship along the waterfront for nearly 100 years.
“We have a vision of what we want to see, how we want to see that building reactivated,” Lefeber said. “But there are so many more creative people out there. We want to hear what their ideas are.”
Businesses have until 1 p.m. on Feb. 1 to submit proposals in response to a request for information the port issued Dec. 14.
The 6,000 square-foot structure opened in the 1920s as a sales office for the company’s first Everett lumber and shingle mill.
Back then, its rooms showcased cedar and hemlock and its 160-ton steel safe held the riches of lumber barons.
Now, they sit empty — in need of cosmetic upgrades, plumbing and a new purpose to bring the building back to life.
The building has been hauled to three different locations since it was constructed in 1923 near Weyerhaeuser’s Mill “A” plant, where the International Seaport is now.
In 2016, it became the centerpiece of Boxcar Park, two acres with views of Port Gardner Bay and the Olympic Mountains.
It’s also a focal point of the port’s $650 million Waterfront Place redevelopment, a cluster of restaurants, retailers, offices and apartments that’s taking shape along the water’s edge.
Port leaders envision a cafe or tasting room to complement the outdoor stage that they hope to build on the back of the building, where concerts and performances could be held during the warmer months. People could gather there and enjoy the building’s history without paying a membership or entry fee, Lefeber said.
“We know how amazing that building is and the unique history of it. We want people to be able to get back inside of it in a meaningful way,” she said.
The port hopes to pick an operator in the spring, clearing the way for crews to potentially begin renovating the building in late 2021, Lefeber said.
The structure served its original purpose until 1979, when the sawmill closed. Later, it housed the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce offices.
It was donated to the port in 1983 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places three years after that.
The port has spent more than $3 million on the Gothic-style building, replacing the roof, repainting the exterior and installing other infrastructure.
Its original architect, Carl F. Gould, founded the University of Washington’s architecture program. He also designed the Everett Public Library and the Historic Everett Theatre.
The Weyerhaeuser building, including the safe, is two stories. Port leaders have suggested that the first floor could be open to the public for day-to-day use and the second floor available for special events.
With the port facing a revenue shortfall because of the COVID-19 pandemic and turbulence in the aerospace industry, public officials will need help from private industry to fully restore the interior any time soon, Lefeber said.
“The reality is we don’t have the resources right now to invest solely on our own and get it back up in operation,” she said. “I would encourage people — if they’re interested — to really come down and take a look at it. It’s a beautiful spot.”
The building will be open for walk-throughs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Jan. 7.
For more information, visit portofeverett.com.
Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.
Rachel Riley is a news reporter at The Daily Herald, covering Snohomish County. Her interests include local politics, criminal justice reform, environmental issues and growth and development. Learn more about Rachel.
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