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Kirkland’s Coffee Crossing, White Swan, Chevron close to make way for 5-story apartment complex

Coffee Crossing owner Brandee Krumbah (right) stands with a barista at their drive-thru coffee stand on 324 Central Way in downtown Kirkland. The coffee stand is expected to close on Sept. 3. - Raechel Dawson/ Kirkland Reporter
Coffee Crossing owner Brandee Krumbah (right) stands with a barista at their drive-thru coffee stand on 324 Central Way in downtown Kirkland. The coffee stand is expected to close on Sept. 3.
— image credit: Raechel Dawson/ Kirkland Reporter

A coffee stand, a car wash and a gas station are being shut down to make way for a five-story apartment complex along Central Way in downtown Kirkland.

The two small businesses - Coffee Crossing and White Swan car wash - have been with the Kirkland community for more than 20 years but the combined 20 or so employees will soon be displaced.

White Swan car wash and Chevron are expected to close “for good” Saturday, Aug. 31 with Coffee Crossing’s last day on Sept. 3.

“It has been our privilege and great joy to be a part of a great city,” said White Swan general manager Dave Ridley about the 40-year-old car wash. “Other than the ownership changes, the business is considerably less than it used to be. When it opened, there was no other gas stations or car washes. Now there’s competition up the street.”

White Swan has won an award from the Legends Car Club in 2000 and 2007. They’ve won Best Car Wash of the year by City Search in 2006 and 2007. And the car wash was on the Kirkland Reporter reader’s Best of Kirkland list for 2012.

“I hate to see the car wash go, that was my life but it just got to be the gas prices,” said former White Swan car wash owner Steve Rall. “It was hard to convince somebody to fill their Volkswagan up with $50 or $60 and then an extra $10 extra for a car wash. The whole car wash industry has slowed down.”

While business may not be as booming as it used to for White Swan, Coffee Crossing owner Brandee Krumbah said her business still has hundreds of dedicated and loyal customers. She fears many will not know about the change or where to find her - if she can find a new location.

“I’m working with the [Greater Kirkland] Chamber of Commerce right now to help me relocate somewhere,” said Krumbah, who’s worked at Coffee Crossing for 15 years and owned it for 10. “I mean, we’re doing our best because Kirkland’s hard. We got grandfathered in here more than 20 years ago.”

Krumbah said commercial zoning is hard to find for Coffee Crossing, which is a drive-thru, walk-up coffee stand and has three to seven employees.

“I’ve had my good and bad days since this has all been told to me,” said Krumbah. “And this morning I was just bawling and crying as I was making coffee because I’m starting to get the word more out there because a lot of people just don’t know it’s happening so quickly.”

She said her customers have pulled together for her since the closure was announced. One customer offered to help crane the coffee stand out, another offered his flatbed truck and another offered a place for her to store the wood-frame coffee stand until she can find a new place.

“We’re gonna move this little guy. There’s just too many memories, you know?” she said.

Krumbah said with each of the four owners in seven years, there’s always been some type of closure threat.

“I have hundreds of regulars and nobody wants the building to go on,” she said. “They’re sick of construction, they’re sick of how our own little town is not our little town anymore. We don’t want to be Bellevue, we’re Kirkland. We’re different.”

The business closures come at a time when many Kirkland residents feel dissatisfied with big development projects in downtown Kirkland such as the Potala Village apartment complex and the Lake Street Place project.

Kirkland Associate Planner Tony Leavitt said Tony Fan with the architecture firm Studio Meng Strazzara applied for a Design Review Board approval earlier this year on behalf of developer Continental Properties LLC, which is based out of Bellevue.

The Design Review Board approved the five-story mixed-use project on June 3 that is expected to have 7,500 square feet of ground floor retail restaurant space and four stories of 73 apartment units on top.

An underground parking garage with about 145 parking stalls is also planned. The project is designed to fit on the 0.63 acre property at 324 Central Way.

Claudio Guincher with Continental Properties LLC said he hopes to secure building permits by the end of this year or early 2014 so they can break ground within the first quarter of 2014. If all goes according to plan, the building, which will include a nice lobby and a small gym, will be complete by the summer of 2015.

“Kirkland’s fantastic,” Guincher said, adding Continental Properties built the current Kirkland Center Condominiums. “We have quite a bit of history in downtown Kirkland. We think it’s a great place to live, my wife and I have spent a lot of time in the summer in Kirkland and it’s a great place to be.”

Meanwhile, Ridley, Krumbah and the other two dozen employees will look for work elsewhere.

“It’s hard financially, I have a little girl to take care of and I help my mom financially and stuff, but that isn’t even the biggest thing,” Krumbah said on the verge of tears. “It just hurts my heart knowing that I’m not going to see [my regulars] every day anymore unless we can find somewhere to be.”

To connect with Brandee Krumbah of Coffee Crossing, visit The Coffee Crossing Co. on Facebook or at her coffee stand at 324 Central Way in Kirkland.

White Swan Car Wash & Detail can also be found on Facebook.

White Swan car wash manager Dave Ridley stands with car wash workers Tim Pomero, Jyran McNairy and Kolben Christiansen. White Swan will close Aug. 31. CARRIE RODRIGUEZ/KIRKLAND REPORTER

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