A 12,000-square-foot concrete, steel and glass building overlooking the Port of Camas-Washougal marina, which has been vacant since its construction six years ago, will soon be the future site of penthouses or possibly a mix of office and retail.
The two-story structure, located at 56 S. “A” St., Washougal, had previously been slated as the site for an upscale restaurant named Black Pearl on the Columbia. That restaurant, which had been expected to open in the spring of 2011, would have featured a bar, banquet and meeting rooms, patio dining and a 5,000-bottle wine cellar with rentable lockers.
Bill Sherertz, the managing member of Black Pearl on the Columbia LLC, died in January of 2011, at the age of 64. His widow, Kimberly, said later that year that it was her husband’s wish to open the restaurant, but that she was not as passionate about the restaurant business as her husband had been.
At that time, Kimberly said she was busy managing her family, which includes a son and daughter who were active in sports. She also has a stepdaughter, who was in law school in 2011, and a stepdaughter who lives in San Francisco.
“Restaurants are 24-hour-a-day projects,” Kimberly said. “It’s all about service and getting it right. You have to be there. People want to feel connected. They want to see you now and again. They want to know the owner is part of the community.”
“While I love doing that stuff, I just do not have the energy to do that,” she said. “I am smart enough to know when to say when.”
What’s in a name?
Kimberly said the Black Pearl on the Columbia name was developed at a family dinner, attended by her, Bill, and their children, Elizabeth and Cole.
Bill grew up in Bandon, Oregon, around fishing and logging.
“He was a bit of a roughneck growing up,” Kimberly said. “He read a lot about pirates and liked their code. He always wanted to be a pirate — ‘get rid of all the ‘stinkin’ rules,’ he would mutter.”
Kimberly said “Pirates of the Caribbean” was one of Bill’s favorite movies, but he also appreciated the “rare and refined gem,” the black pearl.
“He gifted both necklace and earrings to me the following Christmas,” she said. “Bill was a frontiersman, blazing new trails, with a tad bit of disdain for mainstream. He was a pirate at heart, 140 years too late.”
Building zoned for mixed use
Since Kimberly’s decision to not develop the Black Pearl on the Columbia restaurant, there have been efforts to sell or lease the building.
Deborah Ewing, a vice-president and managing broker with Eric Fuller & Associates, Inc., had promoted the structure as a potential restaurant site until the property was taken off the market.
She said in October 2016, the property was under contract with an investor, and the investor was in discussions with a couple restaurant operators.
Kimberly’s brother, Scott Jacobsen, a real estate broker for Realty Pro Inc., said approximately $5 million had been put into the building already, and there was an offer to purchase it for $2.5 million.
“She decided to keep it in the family,” Jacobsen said. “It grew on her, and she took it off market.”
Kimberly said her financial advisor pointed out that it is fine for her to build out the structure for personal use.
“Since it’s been off the market, I’ve had more inquiries than ever before,” she said. “There may be a partnership opportunity. We will have to wait and see.”
Kimberly said RSV Building Solutions did some preliminary drawings of penthouse suites, but nothing is ready for bid or has set price levels.
Having grown up in Camas and graduated from Camas High School in 1975, Kimberly now lives in Battle Ground.
The Black Pearl building is located near Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail, which is on part of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property.
“It holds a lot of sentimental value because of my husband and his vision, and because I literally grew up down there boating and water skiing,” Kimberly said. “I find it curious that I’m back here at this time in my life.”
“The Port has done an absolutely beautiful job on the waterfront so far, and Dave Ripp, the Port’s executive director, and I talk regularly about progress,” she added.
The “Black Pearl” building is located on the former site of the Parker House Restaurant. The Parker House structure, whose previous owners include Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinoza, was demolished in July 2010.
According to Washougal Community Development Director Mitch Kneipp, the building and 2.02 acres are zoned highway commercial, which allows for a mix of uses.