Excellence on Main Award

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Mercantile Wenatchee

Awardee: Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2020

City: Wenatchee

We honor Wenatchee’s coworking space, The Mercantile, and its owners Jeff & Heather Ostenson and Rick & Cory Wray for their transformative rehabilitation of an historic building in the heart of downtown and their tremendous dedication to community and collaboration.

Linda Haglund, executive director of the Wenatchee Downtown Association, won’t mince words about the state of the building before the foursome got their hands on it. Originally built as a mercantile, the Ellis-Forde Building has been a staple of the city center since 1905. It was a Sears-Roebuck, then a JCPenney, and after that a Bonanza. The Emporium apartments were in the upper floors. Over a hundred years of Wenatchee history is infused in the bones of this building, and now it provides a future-focused service for entrepreneurs and remote employees who have made wonderful Wenatchee home.

But before the grand opening last fall, there was a tremendous amount of work to bring the Ellis-Forde Building into the 21st century. Heather took on researching the history of the building and worked with local historians and the city to keep character where it existed and bring it back to light where it had been hidden. Where possible, they highlighted original elements like the brick they exposed on the south wall of the front lobby and the windows facing the alley that had been bricked over. Where new materials were needed, the team chose with sourcing and sustainability in mind – such as the timber purchased from a Colville lumber company that conserves old growth through responsibly harvesting practices.

The success of The Mercantile’s restoration inspired other building owners downtown, and the Ostensons and Wrays are generous in passing their wisdom on to these other projects.

The partners have created an open and collaborative culture within The Mercantile, which represents 31 unique businesses and nonprofits, and offers conference rooms and event space for the public. The vision of the Merc – to promote health, happiness and productivity in your workplace – is as evergreen as our state.