Thursday, March 31, 2011

Avalara, Island Gateway make a perfect match - Bainbridge Island Review

Bainbridge Island Review Editor

Today, 4:39 PM

It has taken a considerable amount of time and dialogue, but the Island Gateway development finally has its ideal anchor tenant under contract.

Nearly all of the commercial space available in the large building sandwiched between the existing Kids Discovery Museum and the anticipated Bainbridge Art Museum has been leased to Avalara.
The dynamic, island-based company has grown rapidly to become an industry leader in providing web-based sales/use tax compliance solutions for small and mid-sized businesses.

Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane (left) and founder Rory Rawlings hope that their third move during the last six years to accommodate their burgeoning firm will be a charm.
Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo
The 17,500-square-foot office space will soon be home to 85 employees who work in the tech firm’s Bainbridge headquarter. An additional 17 are expected to be hired by the time Avalara moves from its current two-buildings home on Ericksen Avenue to Gateway in late May or early June.

The new digs will be quite a step up from the company’s humble beginnings, which began when island resident and founder Rory Rawlings created the software on a computer in his daughter’s bedroom six years ago.

From there, the company, which now has 200 employees working in offices located in several states and India, moved its headquarters to the San Juan Building on Ferncliff Avenue and then to Ericksen Avenue.

Founder/CEO Scott McFarlane said the company has needed to move for more than year and has been looking on the island without success. The space has become so cramped that employees have been sharing desks and sitting on countertops.

“We have 80 percent of our Bainbridge workforce living either on the island or elsewhere in the county,” he said, “so we’ve wanted to find something here – preferably close to the ferry because we also have employees living in Seattle. But nothing fit until this came up.”

McFarlane said the new building is large enough for “our creative, hard-working employees to have a little fun and be able to relax at work. We basically try to keep a family atmosphere at work, and this will help us retain that goal.”

Avalara’s employees will even have access to their own exercise room in the building.
“It’s just a dynamic event for us... moving to a great work space and still being able to work close to home,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds for us.”

It’s also a good deal for Bill Carruthers and the other principles of the project’s developer, Asani LLC.
“Scott always wanted to have Avalara on Bainbridge so we looked at designing a special space for them,” Carruthers said. “It took some time for us to make the adjustments and to negotiate concessions on both sides. But I can’t tell you how pleased we are having them on the island in the first place, and now in our building.”

McFarlane said having a secure lease was important for both parties.

“We know now that we can stay here as long as we want to, which is a good thing for us and the island,” he said. “Besides us continuing to work downtown, we also bring hundreds of people to the island each year for training. So it’s great for the island’s economy, too.”

Carruthers said the building’s retail space has all been claimed, too. The restaurant “Radish” and a natural cosmetics store called “Pretty Stick” have signed leases. He said a women’s clothing store has signed on but has asked to remain anonymous for now.

“We’ve had to work at it,” Carruthers said, “but we’ve been surprised at the level of interest we’ve had during such tough economic times.”

The next building project for Asani, Carruthers said, is the two-story building that will front Winslow Way just west of the art museum, which is on its own time-frame.

There was very little interest in the building at first, he said, but it has picked up since the beginning of this year. Construction will begin next month.

“We have people interested in the building on Winslow Way, but they want to see the space before starting to negotiate seriously for an agreement,” he said.

He said the plan is to have a restaurant on the second floor overlooking Winslow Way and retail at street level. He said there have been conversations with owners of three potential shops.

Bainbridge Island Review Editor Dennis Anstine can be reached at or (206) 842-6613.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Island Gateway aspires to become a Zero Waste Community

The Island Gateway project was conceived with the goal of creating minimal environmental impact. Throughout construction of the project, 99% of all “waste” materials have been reused or recycled. We hope to continue this practice throughout the life of this new community. We believe it is our responsibility to the community and natural environments to be as sustainable in all of our processes as possible. 

As members of the Zero Waste International Alliance, our goal is that all waste will in some way be safely recycled back into the economy and the environment. Island Gateway will work toward this goal, in part by creating opportunities for recycling and composting of waste from all our retail and office spaces.

CLICK HERE FOR PDF to learn more about the steps Island Gateway is taking to be a zero waste community.

click here to learn about the Zero Waste International Alliance

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bainbridge Island Review: Island Gateway set to sign up anchor tenant

Bainbridge Island Review Editor

Mar 10 2011, 4:35 PM

The Island Gateway development expects to solidify its future this week or next by signing a lease contract with an all-important anchor tenant.

Contract issues were still  being vetted by the principals, delaying an official announcement by the large Bainbridge firm that plans to move to the development.

“It’s going to happen, but they wanted to make the announcement when everything is taken care of legally,” said Andrew Lonseth of Asani LLC, the island firm developing Island Gateway.

After spending some time at KiDiMu, a mother and her children stop to watch Josh Pippinger of JP Landworks move some rocks around for a courtyard wall being built at the Island Gateway project.
Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo
Two other businesses and several retail stores are also in negotiations with Asani, which hopes to have tenants signed up soon for its four commercial buildings.

“We are in good shape now,” he said. “We have a strong combination of almost signed leases and strong interest. We should be fully booked on opening day or shortly thereafter. That will be late May or, it’s safe to say, early June.

The tentative opening of the four retail/office buildings is scheduled in conjunction with the Kids Discovery Museum’s first-anniversary celebration of moving into its new building in the north part of the development June 4.

The exact configuration of the four buildings, which is actually one building broken up into four separate, three-story spaces, depends somewhat on the tenants.

The first two floors of the “building” adjacent to the future Bainbridge Island Art Museum are owned by the museum, which will have a 95-seat auditorium on the first floor and offices and classrooms on the second floor.

Lonseth expects five retail businesses on the first floor of the other three “buildings,” including a restaurant operated by the owners of the former Real Foods grocery store. The top two floors will have six office units, Lonseth said, with the possibility of two of the six being subdivided.

The museum offices, which currently are in the space where the old Chamber of Commerce was, will move into the second-floor offices above the auditorium when it is finished – likely in late May or early June.

The remaining building on the site where the museum will be built is expected to be razed sometime this summer – though it’s possible that one part of it will be saved.

Lonseth said the second floor of the front part of the structure, which contains two apartments, is salvageable for the price of moving it.

“We’ve been trying to find someone to move it and haven’t been successful,” he said.
If it isn’t moved, the entire structure will be torn down, with some of the reusable parts put to use elsewhere or recycled.

Craig Robinson, executive director of the Art Museum, said that other than moving out of the current building in May or June a timeline hasn’t been established for the new museum’s groundbreaking or completion.

Lonseth said it will probably take between 12 to 14 months to complete construction of the museum.
Robinson said he and the museum board “are in the quiet phase of our capital campaign and in an organizational readiness stage. We are also making plans about how our involvement with the community and how the community can use our space. We’re not just going to be about art. It’s also about education and partnering with the community.”

Robinson said the designs of the museum’s exterior and interior components are now completed.

Bainbridge Island Review Editor Dennis Anstine can be reached at or (206) 842-6613.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Students Tour Gateway

PHC lead tours for local high school architectural students of the Island Gateway job site today.