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Ag Guild gets $300,000 loan, will proceed with purchase of 150 Nichols St.

The Ag Guild says a $300,000 loan will enable it to proceed with purchasing 150 Nichols St. for a year-round farmers market and events center. The site was historically the Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Co. It was last occupied by Friday Harbor Electric.  - Scott Rasmussen / August 2010
The Ag Guild says a $300,000 loan will enable it to proceed with purchasing 150 Nichols St. for a year-round farmers market and events center. The site was historically the Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Co. It was last occupied by Friday Harbor Electric.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen / August 2010

The San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild has received a $300,000 loan, which it says will enable it to proceed with purchasing 150 Nichols St.

The loan was announced at a fundraiser Sept. 12 at San Juan Vineyards, at which an additional $36,000 was raised. The Ag Guild has a $375,000 state grant and a $99,990 USDA grant — for a total of $810,990. The purchase price is $775,000.

"Above the purchase price, our capital campaign goal is still to raise another $400,000 roughly to perform renovations and open the facility for business," Ag Guild co-chairman Mark Madsen said. "We are working hard to raise those funds as soon as possible with the goal of getting work under way at the facility shortly after we close and get final construction drawings and permits."

Madsen said the purchase should close before Nov. 1. "The only uncertain element in the timing is how long it takes for the Commerce Department to process the grant paperwork and get ready to move their funding. The other funds should be in escrow well before then."

The news came just weeks after the San Juan County Council changed course on the purchase of a Land Bank conservation easement on the property for $400,000. Council members Richard Fralick and Rich Peterson voted against the easement purchase, saying there weren’t enough financial safeguards for the public.

A day after the council’s Aug. 24 vote, Madsen said the Guild would try to get more time from the property owners and raise the money from other sources.

The Ag Guild proposes using the site as a year-round farmers market and events center with public open space. The $300,000 loan “will allow the Ag Guild to proceed with the purchase of the 150 Nichols St. property,” Madsen said in an e-mail. “The Ag Guild board’s Capital Campaign to raise the funds needed for the development of Friday Harbor Brickworks is well under way.”

The site is called “Brickworks” because it was historically the site of the Friday Harbor Brick and Tile Co., which manufactured blocks used in the construction of many downtown heritage buildings, including Town Hall.

Yvonne Swanberg of San Juan Vineyards donated the use of the vineyard’s pavilion for the Sept. 12 fundraiser. The pavilion was transformed for the event with market canopies, hanging lanterns, colorful wall hangings, a progressive dinner, and farmers market displays interspersed with displays about the various groups and activities that will use Brickworks.

There were door prizes, including the Hot Shop and Flavor Emporium’s new Brickworks Hot Sauce – “the Hottest Topic in Town!” The auction, with auctioneer Tom Pasma, started off with a gallon jar of Ruth Sundstrom’s cookies, baked by her granddaughter, which sold for $950, and concluded with a farmer’s 5-year-old daughter’s dozen eggs that sold for $750.

-- Online: http://blog.sjiagguild.com.

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