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Plan in works for Front St. building
Plans for Front Street’s only vacant building could breathe new life into the historic structure and offer multiple retail and office spaces in the commercial district.
Proposed changes to the old Mad Crab building, owned by Thom Kroon, include a mixed use of retail, office and residential space.
Kroon’s proposal calls for the creation of four spaces on the street level floor, two retail and two retail/office spaces. The floor below street level, which was once a bar, is proposed to be turned into two spaces, one residential and one undetermined use, said Coupeville Town Planner Bridget Smith. An attic space on the third level is also proposed to be turned into a residential space.
The project has been informally presented to the Historic Preservation Commission, but will be presented formally in April.
Smith said the next meeting of the HPC is Thursday, April 24, but if a meeting is called earlier she will present the proposal then.
Former Coupeville Town Planner Larry Kwarsick is serving as the applicant agent on the project.
He said in addition to getting approved by the HPC, the project must also obtain a shoreline substantial development permit.
“There is no expansion of the building footprint or height being proposed,” Kwarsick said, “and the project does come with a new stairway to the beach that will be available for the public.”
The initial proposal presented to the HPC was returned because it didn’t meet the guidelines set by Ebey’s Landing Historical Reserve, Smith said.
Some modifications to the proposal include changing the material proposed for the roof and creating a clear definition between the historic part of the building and the addition.
The initial proposal also identified the two spaces below street level as residential, however, code says there can only be one residential space per level, Smith said.
Some of the proposed changes to the water-facing side of the structure include creating a slanted roof in the back.
“The purpose of the project is to bring the historic structure back to an architectural style more consistent with the original (c. 1870’s) of this and other buildings on N.W. Front Street,” Kwarsick said. “This will include needed repairs and upgrades to the structure and mechanical systems.
“The intent is to enhance the appearance of Front Street and add to the vitality of Coupeville’s retail economy.”
Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the project is a welcomed addition to the town.
Having additional retail space adds more energy to downtown, she said, and the more people, the more success.
With the idea of new business coming to Front Street, Conard said she always likes businesses that attract locals as much as tourists.
There are some challenges to doing construction on Front Street, Conard said. If the project requires a staging area, the town may have to close some parking spots temporarily to accommodate.
“We’ve done it before and we can do it again,” she said.
In late 2012, Seattle businessman-turned-property-investor Kroon purchased the John Robertson Building from Fairway America, LLC., a hard-money group based out of Portland, Ore.
The John Robertson Building has a long history, which began in 1866 as Robertson’s waterfront store.
At one time, a dock similar in size to the Coupeville Wharf was nestled between it and what is now Toby’s Tavern.
In 1948, it was converted to a restaurant and has housed a handful over the past 60 years.
While many today still call it the Mad Crab; others may think of it as Captain Jacks or the Captain’s Galley.