Awardee: Real Works, LLC
Award: Bricks & Mortar Rehabilitation
The largest historic building in the Ellensburg Historic District, the Geddis Building’s rehabilitation is a testament to tenacity and downtown partnership.
Built in 1889, the two-story Geddis Building is the former home of the Vendome Hotel and a once-thriving retail hub in the downtown core. Over several decades in the late 1900s and into the 2000s, the 30,000 square foot building fell into disrepair. Located in the heart of downtown, the building’s condition resulted in an inability to attract tenants and, by extension, a major obstacle for the rest of the district’s progress. After extensive measures to encourage the then-owner to make necessary updates or put the building on the market, the City of Ellensburg, encouraged by a cadre of nonprofit and economic development partners, purchased the building in 2012 with the intent of transferring ownership back into the private sector.
When MJSS LLC purchased it from the City in 2015, they immediately got to work on repairing and stabilizing the building – a $400,000 project. They replaced the roof, ample plumbing, and dangerous electrical systems to restore the inside of the building to working condition. Commercial tenants moved into the building at this point and worked on their own improvements as well.
During the summer of 2020, the project continued with Pioneer Masonry repairing the façade and Architectural Elements replacing the historic midband cornice. That same summer, the second phase of the project began as MJSS spoke with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation about their plans to convert the abandoned hotel on the second floor into 17 high-end apartments, with preservation as a priority and restored finishes from the original construction in 1889. Construction began in May 2021 with a $2.6 million loan from Cashmere Valley Bank.
The results of the ongoing rehabilitation speak for themselves: vacant store fronts at the street level have become thriving shops with increased foot traffic, opportunities for historic downtown apartments has renewed local interest in living within the historic district rather than simply visiting, and pride of place has led to street-wide beatification.