By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Our CEO has been looking at this area for a while,” said Jennifer Hudgins, who is in charge of real estate acquisitions for the Phoenix-based company.
“We had a contract on this property, but it fell through,” Hudgins said.
“But they lowered the price, and we made an offer that was accepted.”
The company paid $1.3 million for the property in October, according to the Jefferson County Assessor's Office.
The land, which includes three parcels, was purchased from Madeline Woods LLC, which bought the land from Courtesy Ford for $1.4 million in 2009.
Hudgins said there is no schedule for opening the U-Haul business, although the company generally opens new stores about six months after taking possession of a new property.
By this yardstick, the store could open at the end of April, which Hudgins said is possible.
Along with truck and trailer rentals for which the 66-year-old company is famous, the business will sell moving supplies and offer self-storage, Hudgins said.
The closest full-service U-Haul business is in Bremerton, she said.
Several private businesses across the North Olympic Peninsula, particularly in the Sequim-Port Angeles area, rent U-Haul equipment on a contract basis.
The company is now acquiring permits for the 9,853-square-foot building, with comments solicited from any member of the public regarding the permit application.
Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and should be presented in writing to the Jefferson County Department of Community Development, 621 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, by that time.
No public hearing will take place if there are no comments that require a response, according to a memo from the Department of Community Development.
The description on the application states the project is to bring the property up to code and reconfigure the building for equipment rentals and moving-oriented retail sales.
Courtesy Ford, the building's most recent occupant, closed in August 2008.
It sold the property a year later and closed its headquarters dealership in Poulsbo in 2011.
All this coincided with the beginning of the Great Recession.
The new owners were unable subsequently to sell the property at the junction of state Highways 19 and 20 south of Port Townsend.
In 2012, several local businesspeople met on the property to assist its development but were unable to come up with a plan.
The only activity on the vacant property was an occasional traveling sale of cars from a Port Angeles dealership that rented the property for a short time.
Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Verraes said she was pleased that the space would now be occupied.
“I'm glad we have a new neighbor, and it is a strong business that will stay there for a while and not just go away,” Verraes said.
“It will also provide help to people who want to move here.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.