Business

Island Group Sotheby's moving to new digs in town; Windermere may move to Sotheby's site

Island Group Sotheby's International Realty will move from the former San Juan Inn to another site in town in January.

Windermere Real Estate may move to the Sotheby's site from its offices on Spring and First streets.

The Sotheby's building, 50 Spring St., is one of the oldest buildings in Friday Harbor. It was built circa 1880 and operated as an inn until 2005, when it was purchased and restored by Friday Harbor Realty owners Greg and Natalie King. Friday Harbor Realty moved there after the restoration; RE/MAX bought Friday Harbor Realty in 2008 and became a Sotheby's International Realty franchise. The Kings still own 50 Spring St.

Paul LeBaron, an owner of Island Group Sotheby's, said Dec. 16 that the 6,000-square-foot building is too big for his company's needs. He said his office has "a dozen" agents.

LeBaron said he is considering three sites for a new location. Besides a new location, "we have a very good closing in January — the best closing in a few years," he said.

A message was left Dec. 16 for Gary Franklin, owner of Windermere Real Estate. Gordy Petersen owns Friday Harbor Center, of which Windermere Real Estate is the largest tenant.

"It's too early to say," Petersen said of Windermere's plans. "It's not a rumor, but I'm not sure it's true (the space) will be vacant. They still have a lease for a long time."

He added, "I'm not sure it's true they will be vacating. We're working with them but it's still early in the process."

Sotheby's International Realty is a subsidiary of Sotheby's, the world's oldest international auction house in continuous operation. Its predecessor, Baker's, was founded in London on March 11, 1744. The real estate subsidiary has offices in 34 countries.

The real estate industry is still gasping for air in a market that has been restricted by the Great Recession. Of agent-listed sales in November, there were 23 new listings, 435 total active listings, 19 pending sales and eight closed sales in San Juan County, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks real estate data in the state.

This quarter, Pat O'Day closed his John L. Scott Real Estate office on Spring Street and joined Windermere. That leaves four agencies with storefronts; the others are Coldwell Banker San Juan Island and Kent Meeker Real Estate Services.

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