Business

With the last senior resident gone, here’s what’s happening with the Leopold

The Leopold, a former hotel converted to senior apartments in downtown Bellingham, closed March 9 when the last resident moved out.
The Leopold, a former hotel converted to senior apartments in downtown Bellingham, closed March 9 when the last resident moved out. The Bellingham Herald file

The Leopold Retirement Residence was able to close sooner than expected after the 79 people living there moved to new homes.

The last person in the residence moved out March 9, Dan Hammill said in a Monday news release. Hammill is a Bellingham housing specialist hired to help residents find new homes.

Details about the future of the 1929 building will be announced later this spring, according to the news release.

Permit applications submitted to the city of Bellingham indicate plans to convert at least part of the structure from apartments back to a hotel.

Peter Frazier, executive director of The Leopold, said in an email that using part of the property as a hotel is being considered, but that no decision has been reached.

Frazier also confirmed that downtown property owner Bob Hall bought out partners to become the sole owner of the property in January.

The owners of the building announced in December that they would close the retirement business by March 31, citing rising costs and declining occupancy. The former hotel was converted into a 93-unit apartment complex for retirees in 1985.

The Leopold worked with local senior housing providers, social service agencies and families to help residents find new homes, Frazier said in the news release. Around 30 employees were also provided with a human resource specialist to help with career transitions.

“We’re thankful to our staff who did such a great job caring for our residents through this difficult time,” Frazier said in the news release. “We also thank all of the volunteers who assisted residents with packing and moving their belongings.”

Frazier believes most of the residents found homes in Whatcom County. He also believes that all of the former staff members have either found other work or went on to do other things, such as concentrate on their studies at Western Washington University or Whatcom Community College.

After 33 years, The Leopold will no longer be a retirement community for senior citizens in downtown Bellingham. Owners told the 79 residents living in the landmark building they have until March 31 to find new homes.

Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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