Transformation of Seaside's buildings has investors, residents geared upSEASIDE - Excitement crackles in the descriptions used by the people fostering changes at Broadway and Holladay Drive.

Words such as "wow" and "pop" sprang forth about building progress Thursday after business owners addressed the Seaside Downtown Development Association.

Among the changes, an expanded version of the Cannon Beach restaurant Kalypso will move to the ground floor of the Kirwen building at 619 Broadway, which developer Kirk Fausett is refurbishing. Activity also is accelerating across the street for business partners Avery Loschen and Will Perkins, who acquired the historic Gilbert building in mid-August.

Fausett is an Astoria native whose past projects include putting together Astoria's Mill Pond development with Venerable Properties. He credited the receptivity of Seaside and the support of his wife, Wendy Fausett, in deciding to tackle the long-vacant corner site.

"Seaside is a positive environment," Fausett said. "Seaside is looking really cute.

"We bet on the support of the community, the residents, and the city - and our ability to redevelop the property as cost-effectively as possible to make it look just killer."

A commercial real estate broker who is also a licensed general contractor, Fausett closed on the purchase of the Kirwen building from Dale Frandsen on July 1. Regardless of the $55 million Trendwest Resorts project under development at the Turnaround, opportunity is knocking in Seaside, he said.

Even as his project of remodeling began, Fausett cast his eyes at the stately structure across Broadway, built in 1914. "I kept looking at the Gilbert building, and I realized once we got rolling, somebody else was going to see the diamond in the rough, too."

He saw possible tax benefits for Loschen and Perkins, North Coast homeowners who also have commercial property in Portland, if they redeveloped the Gilbert block. Fausett eventually convinced its California-based owner, Willams Investment Corp. of La Jolla, Calif., to sell.

Changing stages

"We're very excited about the building, the community, and being one of the main squares in town," Perkins said. The immediate focus has been on sealing leaks, but he and Loschen are working in concert with Fausett to create more excitement at the intersection.

"There's a momentum going on, and I think the changes will be positive for Seaside," Loschen added.

Loschen has been researching the history of the building and wants to preserve its integrity, he said. He wants to remove the awnings and other styles influenced by the 1970s and restore individualized business entries.

The second floor originally was planned as a hotel, but apparently was never completed for that use, Loschen said. Much of the plans for the second floor are still in the thinking stage, but the owners hope to retrofit the long-covered second-story windows.

The section of the building along the Necanicum River was built in the 1940s, and the intent is to develop that part in a way that distinguishes it from the older building but also attracts people approaching from the east, Loschen said. It was repainted this summer.

A long-time Gilbert building tenant, Gimre's Shoe Store at 600 Broadway, did not renew its Seaside lease last month after the rent was raised based on a recalculation of space.

Some of the other spaces have been vacant for months, but Loschen said he hopes to bring in tenants who will complement existing businesses. Some store spaces may be reconfigured for what eventually could become a total of 15 tenants in the 25,000 square feet of commercial space in the Gilbert block.

Generally, heightened attention to the building encouraged members of the downtown development association. They also were enthused about the restaurant anchor at the Kirwen building.

Circling backHolding his 18-month old son, Max, in his arms, John Nelson of Seaside surveyed the walls of the building that will soon house the new version of his restaurant. Raised in Astoria, he recalled that his father would sometimes take him to this building for sodas when it was known as the Rexall drug store.

BRAD BOLCHUNOS - The Daily Astorian

The Kirwen building, left, stands across Broadway from the Gilbert building, built in 1914. The new owners of the Gilbert plan to restore some of its historical features.

By late April, the first floor space will become the new home of his restaurant and lounge, Kalypso.

Restaurants run in the family for Nelson; his mother runs the Sanctuary Restaurant in Chinook, Wash.

He and his wife, Jennifer Nelson, have decided not to renew their lease in Cannon Beach after five years of operating Kalypso there. It will be open in that location until Dec. 31.

As planned, the new facility will feature a relaxing lounge and the menu will offer an expanded fare including many grilled items. Although the Nelsons plan to bring their staff with them and retain the restaurant's character and creativity, they plan an atmosphere described as neighborly and whimsical, with broad appeal for the North Coast.

"We're trying to create that 'wow' effect," Nelson said. "I want Seaside to go, 'Wow, this is a gem.'"

The new location may accommodate seating for up to 85 people, up from 48.

Changing sites to expand is not easy, Nelson acknowledged - especially considering the support for years from Cannon Beach lodging and other establishments. "It's hard to leave, they've been very good to us."

Still, he said, "there's no reason, if you're a good neighbor, that you can't succeed. This was just a fantastic opportunity."

Opening windowsA stairway and an elevator will lead to the top floor, where people in recent months have seen the restoration and installation of the windows of the Kirwen building.

The building's exterior work is intended to retain the historic flavor of the original building, but also enhance the structure, Fausett said. Picture windows are replacing single windows, for example, and the windows and small ledge above the stores Granderson's and Exposure Art also will be extended across the currently flat, west-facing wall.

Approaching the business from the east, pedestrians will no longer see a "dead corner" but the ornate facade of the front, Fausett said. "The building is really going to pop."

The investment in redevelopment, exceeding $1.5 million, is centered on bringing a sense of high quality to the Kirwen building and to its mixture of tenants, Fausett said.

Tualatin Valley Centers will lease office space on the second floor for its Seaside counseling services, he said. Additional office space will be available for professionals and small governmental agencies.

A common receptionist, conference room and equipment will be offered in tenant lease packages. Skylights will help to illuminate the lobby as well as offices, and the facility will include an elevator and other features to meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Fausett is salvaging as much of the interior construction material as possible, as evident by stacks of lumber and even old bathroom fixtures inside.

The first stage of the office project - space for Tualatin and four offices - may be ready in January. Demand for leases will determine the pace of completion of the rest of the offices, but Fausett expects the project will be fully leased within three years.

A shortage of parking continues to challenge Seaside. Fausett advocates a collective development of a parking plan by a group of local business and land owners.

But like the redevelopment of the building, it will take concerted effort to resolve, he said.

Fausett has been working with an assistant, Rick Hawkins, to help coordinate the project. As another aid to coping with his own heavy workload, he also said he takes heart in a comment frequently made by his 4-year-old son, Kirk Fausett, Jr., in an upbeat tone:

"Let's get to work."

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