Business is building in Oak Harbor

"Oak Harbor's landscape is going to change by next fall with two major commercial building projects currently underway and plans for at least three more large new buildings.There are a couple of major projects planned - and one is currently underway - for the vacant land on Highway 20 at the south end of town, across the highway from Wal-Mart and Albertsons.Whidbey Island Bank is constructing a two-story, 16,000-square-foot building on the site. Senior Vice President David Johnson said the new building will serve as a banking center and company headquarters, bringing together bank offices scattered all over town under one roof.We've outgrown our current space, he said, but added that the future of the branch office at the corner of Highway 20 and S.W. Barlow Street is still up in the air.Next door to the new bank site, First Western Development - the company that brought Wal-Mart to Oak Harbor - has plans to construct two buildings for retail businesses. The company has submitted a preliminary site plan to the city, which shows a 24,000-square-foot and a 13,000-square-foot building.A preliminary site plan is submitted in the early stages of a building permit application. A drawing filed by First Western show two buildings labeled retail anchors,'' but don't say what businesses might have plans to move in.First Western spokesman Scott Shanks couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.On the north end of the city, the old Paul Bunyan store has been reduced to rubble to make room for a new 23,500-square-foot Office Max. The retail chain, which deals in office supplies and computers, purchased the Koetje Street right-of-way from the city to build a 120-stall parking lot adjacent to the new building.Monday night, the Oak Harbor School Board approved the purchase of the 28,000-square-foot $1.8 million Alaska USA Federal Credit Union building, which will be remodeled for office space and classrooms.That means Alaska USA will likely go through with a deal to buy two Midway Boulevard businesses, Kow Korner and Hole-Bit Tak Rak, in order to build a new, smaller 6,000-square-foot branch at the site.Along with the new buildings going up across from Bayview Plaza, City Planner Tom Burdett said there will also be a couple of new roads, or at least new extensions of roads.As part of the conditions of the building permit, Whidbey Island Bank has agreed to build an extension of S.E. Erie Street - the road that goes behind the new BlockBuster Video store - on the other side of Highway 20. Then behind the bank, parallel to the highway, the bank's contractor will build another road, which Burdett said will be a completely unconnected extension of Bayshore Drive. Erie Street and Bayshore extensions will meet at a corner behind the new bank. Burdett said First Western will also have to extend Bayshore behind the new retails stores when they're built. Under city plans, the new section of Bayshore Drive will extend from Whidbey Island Bank all the way to Beeksma Drive someday, giving drivers heading for one of the businesses an alternative route from the busiest section of the highway. "

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