February 7, 2016

Texan buys 5 downtown buildings

rose theater This shot of Peak Fitness shows the top portion still intact of what was once the Rose Theater. Peak Fitness closed its doors Monday after 21 years of operation in Colfax as the longest continuously-owned fitness center on the Palouse. The building was purchased by Kim Nguyen of Rockport, Texas, who also bought four other buildings and a home which she will rent out in Colfax.

By Kara McMurray Gazette Reporter

A Texas businesswoman has purchased five downtown buildings in Colfax, including the building which housed Peak Fitness for 21 years. Kim Nguyen of Rockport, Texas, bought the buildings with the intention to help Colfax, although she has never been to Colfax or even seen the buildings in person. “Right now it’s many ideas in my mind,” Nguyen told the Gazette Tuesday. “When I come in, I will see what the town looks like and see what it needs. I would like to keep the history for the town if we could.” Nguyen and her husband, Phong Nguyen, will make their first trip to Colfax later this month in order to start getting a better idea of Colfax and what they can do for the city. Nguyen said Colfax came under her radar when she was searching on the Internet about a property she owns in Seattle. At that time, she came across pictures and history of the old Rose Theater on Google. “I’m always searching and looking into something in history, into landmarks,” she told the Gazette. “I found the old Rose Theater on Google, and that’s the first one that got me into Colfax.” That building was the site of Peak Fitness until Monday, and Nguyen said right now she is not sure of her plans for the building. She said she is thinking of restoring it back to a theater or possibly putting a bridal and tailor shop there. “It depends on the budget,” she said. “At this point it is hard.” The building still has the theater chandelier which has been a feature of Colfax second story tours for many years. John Brabb told the Bulletin Monday that selling the building which housed his and his wife’s business was unexpected and quick. “We went from signing up new members for the coming year on Thursday to accepting the offer and deciding to close,” he said. The Peak Fitness business closed almost immediately after the building sold. The Brabbs, who would have marked the 22nd anniversary for Peak Fitness June 24, have been in the fitness business longer than any other proprietors in the Palouse country. Brabb said that over the years potential buyers have checked out the building for possible restoration to a movie theater, but he has no details at this time on the intentions of the buyer. Carmen Bruya, real estate agent at Team Washington Real Estate, said she is the agent who helped Nguyen with purchasing the downtown buildings here. “We’ve been working on these for about a month now,” said Bruya. “She liked one of the buildings I had for sale, and I did research and found places I thought an owner might want to sell.” Bruya said that she worked with building owners to sell buildings which were already up for sale as well as getting two which were not listed for sale. “I went directly to the owners,” Bruya said. “She wants to come in and meet all the tenants and also just to get to know the town a little better.” Bruya told the Gazette that the other properties which Nguyen has purchased – which will all continue operating with the current tenants – are the buildings which currently house Colfax Security at 114 S. Main St., the grain inspection office at 115 N. Main Street, Main Street Books at 119 N. Main St. and Colfax Computer Services and Edward Jones Investments at 124 N. Main Street. Bruya and Nguyen both said that the plans for those buildings are to continue leasing them to the current tenants. “All of those will continue to run their businesses,” Bruya said. “She is just investing in those businesses and having the tenants stay.” Bruya added that Nguyen has also purchased a home on West Street, and she plans to make that into a rental home. She added that Nguyen kept her busy in January. “It has been really nice for me,” she said. “Real estate in January is usually pretty slow. I have just been swamped this month.” Though Nguyen has no connections to Colfax and has yet to visit, she said she wants to be able to help start businesses here and help the community. “I hope I can do some good in Colfax,” she said. “I do have business buildings, and I lease them for people.” Nguyen said she also owns and operates a bridal shop and a restaurant in Texas. Colfax’s Unified Executive Director Valoree Gregory said she is looking forward to working with Nguyen to discuss ideas for new businesses. “She really wants to try to help Colfax,” said Gregory. “She and her husband are coming to meet with us, and they will come and listen to some ideas generated from Coffee with Val.” Gregory said that Nguyen reached out to her about bringing businesses to Colfax, and she said she gave her some ideas and helped to get her in touch with Bruya. “I sent her in these different directions, and I didn’t know which way she would go,” Gregory said. “She told me, ‘I want to hire local people, and I want these local people to run these businesses.’” Nguyen said she and her husband will fly into Spokane Feb. 17 and spend a day or two there before traveling here. She said she is excited to see Colfax and spend some time here. “Until I step into the land and have a feeling, we’ll see what we can do,” she said. “It depends on the budget and the benefit of what I can get. It’s new, and it has just opened a chapter.” Bruya said she thinks what Nguyen will be able to do for Colfax will be good. “She’s a business person, and she has a lot of real estate. It is just giving people some opportunities,” she said. “I am just hoping that this will benefit Colfax, and that she will be a good landlord and bring some new businesses here. She has already affected several people.”

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Fit sees boost after Peak Fitness closes

By Kara McMurray Gazette Reporter

With the announced closure of Peak Fitness Monday, employees at Fit, which opened in Colfax last October, said they saw a boost in new memberships right away. With the closure of Peak Fitness, Fit is now the lone fitness center in Colfax. The fitness center had seen membership grow to more than 200 members as of Jan. 1, personal trainer Jenn Johnson told the Gazette in early January. Sport Town/Fit employee Cozy Lueck said more people than usual came in Monday to sign up for memberships following the announcement that Peak Fitness was closing after its building was sold. “We keep increasing our memberships,” Lueck said, noting that many people who came in Monday said they had previously been members at Peak Fitness. Lueck also said that membership was increasing prior to the Peak Fitness closure. She added many people have also been transferring their gym memberships from Pullman. “There have been some people who exercise in Pullman and want to support the community here, so they are either joining here or transferring from Pullman,” Lueck said. She noted that many of these people said they usually exercise on their lunch breaks in Pullman but can now go to the gym either before or after work. Lueck said the Sport Town/Fit employees are anticipating the possibility that more people might come in throughout the week to start memberships now that Peak Fitness has closed. “We are hoping others will come,” she said. Lueck also said the announcement that Peak Fitness had closed was a surprise. “We never wanted them to go,” she said. John and Sandi Brabb’s announcement that Peak Fitness was closing as of Feb. 1, which they posted to Facebook Sunday night, apologized to their members for the short notice and outlined instructions for return of advance payments as well as returning membership cards. They asked for the cards to be returned via the U.S. Postal Service to the following address: John and Sandi Brabb, 305 N. West St., Colfax, 99111. They also thanked their members and encouraged them to continue in their fitness goals. “John and I want to thank you for your support of our business over the past 21 years,” their post read. “We have enjoyed serving you and encourage you to continue pursuing your health and fitness goals.”

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Tekoa duo lobbies in Olympia, visits Ritzville rancher

By Garth Meyer Gazette Reporter

Last week’s Tekoa trail advocacy trip to Olympia is complete, with another trip underway now and a productive detour providing emphasis to the last. Ted Blaszak and Monte Morgan, members of the Tekoa Trestle and Trail Association, went to Olympia Jan. 27-28 and spent two days taking 15-minute meetings with legislators. They passed out trestle-shaped cookies to advocate for their cause of keeping the John Wayne Pioneer Trail fully open. Afterward, they visited a landowner along the trail who represents those who support its closing. The non-motorized, former railbed trail, which nearly crosses the state, has been under threat since last fall, when a budget proviso in the state legislature – supported by Reps. Joe Schmick, Mary Dye and State Senator Mark Schoessler – almost closed a 135-mile section from the Columbia River at Beverly to Malden. It was negated by a misstatement in the budget document. The proviso would have closed the section of trail until which time State Parks’ had the funding to properly maintain it, as deemed by legislators. In Olympia last week, Blaszak and Morgan met with 18 representatives and state senators, Jon Snyder – the governor’s new Policy Advisor for Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development – as well as representatives from various cities to lobby for passing a resolution in support of the trail. City representatives were in Olympia to take part in Association of Washington Cities Days, which Blaszak participated in as a Tekoa city council member. On the way home from Olympia, Blaszak and Morgan took a detour to ranchland outside Ritzville, to meet with Branden Spencer, a landowner along the trail. He is also a member of the 12-person State Parks’ John Wayne Pioneer Trail Advisory Committee, as is Blaszak. While Blaszak has pushed the cause of trail users, Spencer has carried the mantle for frustrations of landowners along the trail section slated to close. Spencer took Blaszak and Morgan for a drive in his pickup, showing where the trail intersects his land. “I have to say, it was a very educational visit,” Blaszak said. “These are working, agricultural families. I really see this with a better perspective now. I also see a nexus that certain needs of the trail users are the same as landowners.” Amidst the landowners’ complaints has been State Parks’ and the Department of Natural Resources’ lack of maintenance on the trail, namely spraying noxious weeds, which can spread onto private land. “The ranchers have a really good point about noxious weeds,” said Blaszak. “They’re right. The state should step up. But none of these concerns warrant the closing of the trail.” The trail cuts across 6.5 miles of Spencer’s property, of which he is a fourth-generation owner. “That went well,” Spencer said of the visit by Blaszak and Morgan. “It was an education for all parties involved. They saw the size and scope of what I’m dealing with out here with a neighbor (the trail) who’s a poor steward. They brought up certain things I had a hard time disagreeing with. We basically kind of chewed it up, had a reasonable, adult conversation.” “I think we actually enjoy each other’s company,” said Blaszak. Blaszak left for Olympia again on Tuesday, along with Tekoa Trestle and Trail Association member Fred Wagner, to attend Wednesday’s Outdoor Recreation Coalition Big Tent at Rally Day on the Capitol lawn. Spencer and Blaszak will meet again in their roles on the State Park’s Trail Advisory Committee at Moses Lake in March.

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