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Clifton's 'village' takes shape
"Ted Clifton is building his dream of an old-fashioned, small-town commercial center.He says he envisions his Coupe's Village - a development of unique commercial buildings on South Main Street in Coupeville - as a place where people enjoy hanging out, talking with neighbors and browsing businesses. He wants to create a mall-like atmosphere in a commercial village of seven or so charming buildings. It's a place where people want to be, he said.The development, he said, is the antithesis of Oak Harbor's corporate retail, fast-food, drive-through environment, but it's also functional. He started planning the commercial village several years ago after realizing that the town has a real need for office space, especially high-class space, and a variety of services and retail stores.Apparently he was right. Clifton will be starting construction on the third building in the village this winter and all the space has already been leased out. It will be sort of a medical office building, with a urologist, psychiatrist, a psychotherapist and a movement therapy center.The village isn't meant to be a tourist-destination, but a place that will serve the needs of those who live in Central Whidbey.There is no reason for Coupeville residents to go to Oak Harbor, except that the products are there. But hopefully the products will be here soon, he said. Local people, local shops for local needs.Although the commercial development is outside of the town's historic district, Clifton said the designs are based on the timber-framed buildings from the mid-1800s. In fact, he says the first buildings in Coupeville - an old mill town - were all built in that style. Unfortunately, the last of the town's original timber-framed barns burned down not long ago.It's a very old style, very northwestern, he said. It was popular because it works.The influence of the old style is especially evident in the first building of the village that he built, which houses his own Clifton View Homes office. The airy interior of the building is framed in beautiful, slightly rustic beams of Douglas fir.The place where you work should be nicer than the place you live. You're going to spend eight or 10 hours of your day there, he said, looking around the open-air building from the top of the stairs. The office space is a little more expensive than what you would find in Oak Harbor, but look what you get.From the outside, Clifton said Coupe's Village is meant to look like a nineteenth-century industrial farm-type complex. The first building is designed like an old-time industrial shop - the kind of place that would have housed a blacksmith or a mill.The slightly smaller building behind it looks like a grand house, which is exactly the idea. Clifton says it's supposed to be the farm house of the little village.The new building, he says, will resemble an old-fashioned barn. After that, he plans to build a carriage house next to the barn and then another building close to the first building, carrying on the industrial style. He said it will have larger spaces for restaurants or retail.Clifton even continued the farm village theme in the design of a sediment pond. It looks like a duck pond from an old post card - missing only a little bridge across.In all, Clifton said he plans for six or possibly seven buildings in Coupe's Village, totalling around 30,000 square feet. He designs the interior spaces of the buildings based on the needs of the tenants and doesn't start construction until most of the space is leased, so he's not sure when the he'll start work on the carriage house building. Clifton says he originally envisioned that the entire project would take six or seven years to complete, but it may take a lot shorter time if the current space demand continues in the small town of Coupeville.------------Here's a look at the businesses currently housed in Ted Clifton's Coupe's Village:Edward Jones Co. - financial servicesBlooms and Bows - a gift shopWhidbey Association of Landscape ProfessionalsCatrina's Island Interiors - furniture, etc.Hearing Health Services - auditory counselingGorden Barnes, CPA, CMASherry Ascher, MA - counselingO'Brien Resources - in-home services for disabledClifton View Homes - custom builderSally's Garden - retail nurseryPenn Cove Veterinary ClinicWhidbey Island Counseling AssociatesTaylor Made Nutrition - nutrition therapyOpening in the new building mid-summer:Dr. Benjamin Hu Urology ClinicDr. Michael Little - psychiatristJerome Rossen, M. Ed., CMFT - counselingIsland Learning Center - movement therapy "