BELLINGHAM - Retail is returning to the first floor of the Herald Building, and the first announced tenant is a restaurant with strong local ties.
Bayou Oyster Bar is moving to the southwest corner of the building, formerly the site of The Bellingham Herald's printing press. The original restaurant, Bayou on Bay, will remain at 1300 Bay St., said Marisa Papetti, owner of the Bellingham marketing firm fifthonsixth, which represents Bayou and Daylight Properties. Daylight manages the Herald Building.
Plenty of remodeling work still needs to be done, so Bayou Oyster Bar isn't expected to be in its new space until next summer. Plans include adding a mezzanine area inside the space and a balcony on the south and west sides of the building for outdoor seating.
The oyster bar was added on Bay Street in June 2010, expanding into an empty retail space next to the restaurant. Papetti said the Bayou Oyster Bar was a popular addition and typically doesn't have enough seating in the evenings. In the new space, the oyster bar will have about 4,000 square feet.
Once in the new space, Papetti said the bar will continue to focus on a lighter fare menu, which includes drinks and other types of food to go with the oysters, including tacos and prawns.
After The Bellingham Herald newspaper moved its staff to the second floor in July 2012, Daylight Properties began remodeling the Herald Building's first floor. Papetti said the floor is being remodeled into nine separate tenant spaces, geared toward retail and professional office tenants, much like the first floor was decades ago before the newspaper completely took over the space. Previous first-floor tenants include a pharmacy, a taxidermist and the local chamber of commerce.
"Bob's goal is to redo the whole building and bring it back to its original glory," said Papetti, referring to Bob Hall, who with David Johnston purchased the building in 2009.
"Bayou is excited to work with Bob and Kane Hall (his son) and to be a part of the Herald Building renovation," said Bayou owner Steve Crosier.
Papetti added that the timing is also good for the remodel, as a variety of street improvements are in the planning stages along North State Street and a variety of new retail tenants are moving in nearby, including the butcher shop Carne Bellingham and a restaurant called Leaf & Ladle.