Historic downtown building to get a new look

Puyallup: Improvements to Community Resource Center meant to make it more appealing

of the HeraldFebruary 19, 2014 

Sean Snider, an employee from Edgecon Inc. of Auburn, looks over exposed studs on the front of the Community Resource Center along North Meridian on Friday in downtown Puyallup.

LEE GILES III/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

One of Puyallup’s oldest buildings is getting a facelift.

The City of Puyallup began work several weeks ago on the Community Resource Center, 109 N. Meridian. It currently houses the Puyallup Main Street Association, Daffodil Festival organization and the Pierce County Juvenile Community Probation Services.

“What we’re trying to do is return the building to its original appearance and to do something that looks appealing to those on Meridian,” said Deke Jones, the city’s facilities manager.

The 6,000-square-foot property, which sits on a 10,005-square-foot lot, is up for sale for $575,000. It’s listed by Denny Elvins, a broker for Gateway Commercial. It also includes a private 12-stall, off-street parking lot.

Elvins said history has brought him back to the property.

“My family leased the building from 1948 to 1963 as the Elvins Department Stores; prior to that, it was J.C. Penney,” he said.

The structure originally was built for J.C. Penney in 1923. When the department store moved its operation to the corner of Meridian and Meeker Street in 1948, Elvins Department Stores moved in.

That store moved to the Hi Ho Shopping Center in 1963 and stayed there until 1988, when Fred Meyer took over the space at the present location along River Road and Meridian. It moved to East Main for a short time before it closed altogether.

The building at 109 N. Meridian turned over to the State Savings and Loan Association in 1963. An investor later purchased the property, and the City of Puyallup came into possession of it.

For a time, it was used as a temporary location for Puyallup City Council chambers. It became the Community Resource Center after the city council chambers was transferred to the new city hall building.

Elvins said his family members were downtown business owners from 1894 through the mid-1960s. Elvins started in the family business in 1957 and helped move the department store from Meridian to the Hi Ho Shopping Center.

“I’m excited about marketing it and working with the city to try to get it back to its original, historic look,” he said. “People like historically looking buildings with a little charm.”

Elvins said he might be the only person who knows so much about the historic detail of the building. He led Jones and his staff members to discover the original windows on the front of the building that were hidden behind the wood paneling for years.

“That’s been there a long, long time,” Elvins said. “There is a little nostalgia in doing all this.”

Elvins is the second broker to list the property. It had been listed by Neil Walter from last July through Jan. 16. Jones said the city decided the property wasn’t showing very well.

“The city would like to be done with the work within the next 30 to 45 days,” Jones said.

Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen said the building is considered “excess property.”

“We basically don’t have too much use for it, and we don’t want to compete with other renters,” Knutsen said. “We can use that money (from the sale of the property) to fix other (city-owned) buildings.”

Knutsen said he would like to see sale proceeds go toward remodeling the Cornforth Campbell building, where the city could house several nonprofit organizations.

“I don’t have any problem with the city helping nonprofits,” Knutsen said.

The Cornforth Campbell building is occupied by the Youth Investment Center. Knutsen said he would like to maximize use of the space.

Jones said city staff members and Auburn-based contractor Edgecon Inc. are removing the temporary council chambers and interior walls from the Community Resource Center. Jones said that will help “maximize the interior floor space and unique character of the building and the amount of natural light within the building.”

Ultimately, Jones said the work will make the building “appealing and marketable to potential buyers.”

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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