Grays Harbor Transit Authority will soon demolish 300 E. Wishkah St. building

The taupe and dark green building that used to house Grays Harbor Guns — 300 E. Wishkah St. — will soon come down.

For a week or so, workers have been perched on the roof of the two-story building, which is owned by Grays Harbor Transit Authority (GHTA.) The transportation agency plans to demolish the building, according to Martin Best, administrative services manager for GHTA.

The demolition will cost $275,205 with that money coming from GHTA’s general fund, according to Best. Ascendent LLC of Puyallup was picked to do the demolition.

Best said GHTA has started its first phase for the project, which was the abatement.

“(Abatement) is taking out asbestos and other hazardous materials,” Best said. “And then as soon as the city of Aberdeen provides the actual demolition permit, which we expect this week, then the actual demolition of the remaining structure will start.”

Best said stripping the building of any hazardous materials is the first step in demolition because that stuff has to be removed, transported, and disposed of off-site before the actual demolition of the structure can begin.

“That way, the demolition does not spread any hazardous materials into the environment,” Best said. “All that has to be done and inspected, and certified, prior to demolition starting.”

At this point, Best said he doesn’t know when the demolition will happen.

“Before you get the permit, you have to verify that all the utilities have been terminated,” Best said. “We have to work with Cascade Natural Gas, we have to work with (Grays Harbor Public Utility District.) We have to get documentation from them.”

Best said the whole process leading up to the actual demolition takes a lot of coordination.

“It’s just a matter of following the proper procedures to make sure we get the documentation that (shows) everything is safe to tear down,” Best said. “We hope this week, but any time you’re working with a county agency or city agency you have to go by their timelines.”

Best further explained why the building needs to come down.

“The building was old, there was asbestos, there’s black mold, there’s some building code issues,” Best said.

After the building comes down, GHTA is planning an expansion. The separate standalone project, Best said, is anticipated to start within the next few years depending on state and federal grants GHTA receives. The initial estimates from Harbor Architects LLC of Aberdeen — the company that is designing the expansion — are between the $6 million to $7 million range.

Best said there is more work he has to do before he starts appling for grants for the expansion, which means there won’t be a “more finite number” until that time.

According to Best, the design work is part of an ongoing contract for GHTA’s capital facilities planning. It’s also being paid for out of GHTA’s general fund.

“We have an initial design, once we tear it down, of how we’re going to expand and improve the transit facility there to make it safer and more comfortable for all of our riders,” Best said.

The design, as of Monday, July 11, would take up the entire city block — from Market Street to Wishkah Street, and from South G Street to South H Street. The design includes: enclosed seating for departing passengers, improved public restrooms, and a larger office space for GHTA’s customer service representatives and drivers.

“Most importantly, the update and remodel will improve safety for passengers and operators, (and) traffic flow, with dedicated areas for arriving and departing routes,” a July 11 GHTA release states.

As of Monday, July 25, the design process still needed time.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to the timeline,” Best said.

According to the concept site plan in the release, the north side would feature 46 parking spaces.

Along with the demolition of the existing building, which sits on 6,500 square feet of land, according to the Grays Harbor County Tax Assessor website, the “History of Transportation,” mural on the east side of the building will come down, too.

According to the release, GHTA will preserve the mural in “some manner.”

“Transit had professional photos taken of the mural, for which photos will be framed and placed within the remodeled center.”

A bit of good news, according to Best, is the project should not provide much impact to the westbound traffic on Wishkah Street. And the “actual” impact to the riders should be very little.

The GHTA staff has been looking at this project for many years, Best said.

“Obviously, the Aberdeen Transit Center is our primary hub within the community,” Best said. “Anything we can do to improve that will improve the services countywide.”