Slocum House has new tenant

Ridgefield winery plans to open second location, offer event space

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The city of Vancouver, which has been seeking a new tenant for the Slocum House in Esther Short Park since last year, has found one: The Vancouver City Council approved a lease agreement Monday with East Fork Cellars.

Jeffrey Waddell, who started the Ridgefield winery in 2008 with his wife Stacey, said they are planning a grand opening for the first week of July.

First, the Waddells need to restore the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and get a license from the state liquor control board.

The previous tenant, Slocum House Theater, left in February 2012 because the group was unable to pay an increased rent.

Tim Haldeman, the city's director of general services, said the city wanted a tenant to complement Esther Short Park and adjacent activities, including the Vancouver Farmers Market, concerts and other special events.

Waddell said the Ridgefield location will remain open.

At the Slocum House, he plans to offer live music and rent out space for weddings and other private events.

Event capacity will be determined during the permitting process, Haldeman said.

Waddell said he and his wife and their business partner, Don Unrein, are excited about restoring the house. In addition to wine, they'll be able to sell spirits made from wine, such as brandy; they already have the name "Slocum House Spirits," a play off the tale that the house is haunted.

Waddell said food will not be prepared in the house's outdated kitchen; they plan to use local caterers who will bring in prepared food.

According to the contract with the city, East Fork Cellars can use the first floor and basement for "food and beverage preparation and sales, making, bottling, storing and selling of wine, beer and distilled spirits, entertainment and retail business."

The second floor will be used as office space, and East Fork Cellars plans to sublease a portion of the third floor to a current tenant, the Vancouver Farmers Market.

Rent will grow

The lease agreement is for 65 months, with two optional extension periods of 60 months each. For the first 12 months, rent will be $1,500 a month, "With an annual increase of 10 percent throughout the term of the lease. This will result in approximate revenue of $120,000 over the initial term," according to city documents.

With the Slocum House Theater, the city tried to raise monthly rent from $635 to $2,500 over a five-year period, citing a need to recoup costs.

The theater group had operated out of the house for 46 years.

Haldeman said Tuesday that the city decided to start the rent at $1,500 in recognition of the expense the Waddells will have in restoring the property.

The Slocum House, built in 1867 by Charles W. Slocum and his wife, Laura, was moved one block north from its original site in 1966 to save it from demolition. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and placed in the Clark County Heritage Register in 1985.


Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.