By Stefanie Donahue
Since announcing that Starbucks signed a lease for a new commercial property on Peace Portal Drive, developer Mike Hill has been eager to get it open.
Hill and his wife Skye have dreamt of building a location for the popular coffee chain in Blaine for over a decade, he said.
Hill is currently building two properties next to the Chevron station he owns at 568 Peace Portal Drive. Starbucks will occupy an approximately 2,650-square-foot building called ‘Skye Hill Station’ and will sit next to an approximately 1,500-square-foot visitor information center, which the Blaine Chamber of Commerce intends to run and relocate to from 728 Peace Portal Drive.
Both locations are slated to open within the coming months.
“We all want Blaine to be the beautiful seaside community that it can become,” Skye said. “We have a jewel that’s never been polished,” Mike added. “You need these huge anchors to draw drivers off I-5.”
Hill has owned Blaine’s downtown Chevron since 1992 and purchased the adjacent parcel in 2008, he said. At the time, he and his wife wanted to build a Starbucks at the location, but lacked the funds. In 2010, they sold it to Ken Imus, a prominent real estate developer. Imus never developed the parcel and in 2014 he sold it back to Hill for the original purchase price, Mike said.
After years of stagnation, Hill said the wheels started turning when the economy started improving. In the past year, his Chevron station has seen a 20 percent increase in traffic, he said.
He started honing in his design plans for the land surrounding the station and in May 2017 announced plans to open Red Door Fish and Chips, a seafood restaurant, next to the station in the in the former Woody’s Service and Repair.
Months later, after much consideration, Mike and Skye decided to drop the ambitious project due to lack of time and money and aimed their focus toward building the new Starbucks.
Several people came forward to help, including Ron Paulson, Scott Meaker, Mike Kent, Brian Christianson, Michael Smith, Neil Latta and Jerry Bladies, among others, Hill said.
In addition to featuring a drive-thru, indoor spiral staircase and outdoor fireplace, the new building will also contain a 48-foot-tall lighthouse designed by Meaker of Northwest Commercial Construction that will emulate the former Blaine lighthouse.
“This is probably the most elaborate build of Starbucks in North America,” Meaker said.
Last week, Hill released exterior design plans for the new Starbucks building. He said they hope to open before July.
Blaine city manager Dave Wilbrecht said the city has signed a lease for the visitor’s center which begins on Tuesday, May 1. They hope to open by Friday, June 1, he said, adding, “If it can happen sooner, that would be great.”