Change of plan unfolds at Jeri’s Mall

Plans for a restaurant on a newly constructed second story of Jeri's Mall have been shelved, as the prospective new owners of the building reportedly intend to turn the top floor into living space.

A contract for sale of the 260 Spring Street building to Donald and Penelope Torkington has been “signed both ways,” but won’t close until the new second-floor shell is completed sometime in March.

Neither Scott Boden, the present owner, nor the Torkingtons would comment on the agreed-upon price, but sources familiar with the transaction confirm that it is in the $2 million range.

Boden purchased the building in late 2012 for $877,000, according to county records, and is doubling the size of the building, adding a 5,200 square foot second floor to the building, formerly known as Jeri’s Mall.

Boden declined to comment on the cost of the second floor construction, but two local sources familiar with commercial real estate construction thought the $150,000 estimate included in the Friday Harbor permit application was “way too low.”

One knowledgeable source believes that adding the second floor to the building might cost about $300,000, not including finishing the inside as a residence, which is what Penelope Torkington previously said that she intends to do.

Current tenants of building have met the new owners, and several say they welcome the the new owners’ intent to fix up the downstairs commercial spaces, although some say they’re concerned that lease costs may rise.

One long-term tenant, Vinnie Vela, owner of Cousin Vinnie’s pizza and coffee shop, has received a letter from Friday Harbor attorney Stephanie Johnson O’Day informing Vela that food services will not be offered in the building and that he should prepare to move.

Vela, a 12-year tenant of the mall but currently without a lease, has been offered relocation assistance by both Boden and the Torkingtons, he said.

Before reselling the property to the Torkingtons, Boden said he had been negotiating with local restaurant owner John Sable, owner of Rocky Bay Restaurant, to open a restaurant in the upstairs space.

That project has now been shelved, but Boden and Sable are reportedly negotiating a lease to operate a restaurant across First Street from the courthouse in the Cannery House building.