The Rotary Club partnered with the Chamber of Commerce on July 23 to discuss various updates to the city of Mercer Island as the year progresses.
Several upcoming events will be taking over the downtown area as the fall season nears. A few new businesses will be popping up around the city, in addition to those already opening.
Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurie Givan presented the updates in order to promote community involvement with local businesses.
“The business community is the fabric of our lives,” Givan said.
The chamber will be coordinating its second Mercer Island fitness crawl on Oct. 14.
The previous event was held on June 15 and included Barre Rev, Mercer Island Athletic Club, Orangetheory Fitness and Yogabliss. The first event sold out in 36 hours and had a wait list.
“You can see we had a lot of businesses involved in an event that brought together our community and put them in town center with all of our businesses,” Givan said.
The event featured 20-minute instructor-guided workouts at each of the four facilities. Sano Cafe provided samples of their juice throughout the event, and Barrels Wine Bar provided beverages for attendees afterward.
Every dollar from the event went to the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department for its senior services scholarship funds. The fitness crawl raised $2,100.
The sixth annual Art Uncorked will be held on Sept. 6 at the Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery. The first was in 2014 with only 200 attendees. Givan expects more than 1,000 people this year.
The tasting garden features 22 Washington wineries, brewers and cider makers, according to the website. The artists will be intermixed around the sculpture park so guests can visit their booths, enjoy food and listen to live music.
“It brings together our community for what will likely be the biggest event on Mercer Island this summer,” Givan said. A percentage of the proceeds are donated to Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, as well as the Mercer Island High School DECA program, she explained.
Several ribbon cuttings have already happened this year, Givan said. The community celebrated grand openings for Club Pilates, Island Treats, Barrels Wine Bar and OsteoStrong, among others.
The former gas station that most recently occupied Freshy’s Seafood Shack is currently being transformed into Old 76, an old-school burger shack. The joint is owned by Brad Gillis, the same man behind the Homegrown sandwich chain.
About 30 seats will be offered inside, plus twice that number under an awning. Old 76 is set to open on July 31.
The Home Collaborative is going to be a new community co-working space on the island. The space is dedicated to entrepreneurs and home-based businesses with backgrounds in interior design, architecture, landscaping and home organization.
“They can collaborate, network, meet clients and hold events,” Givan said. The space is dedicated to providing professionals with an environment around other people with similar talent and goals.
The Boutique Lounge, a family-owned business, opened on May 9 in the South Mercer Shopping Center. The boutique is a place to gather, purchase retail items or host small group meetings and events.
The shop’s founder, Kerry Donner, promotes an eco-friendly selection of products. Environmental items include toxin-free cosmetics and skin care, vegan leather goods, sustainably produced garments and organic candles.
Update on Farmers Insurance building:
Farmers New World Life Insurance left Mercer Island in the end of 2018 after more than six decades operating out of the city. Since then, the building has been left unoccupied.
“Having the building vacant is a fiscal drag on our town center businesses,” Givan said. “We know that the employees in that building would be using our restaurants, our dry cleaners, our hair salons, our doctors offices, our bookstores and more.”
Farmers Insurance downsized to a building in Eastgate before finishing their lease at one of Mercer Island’s largest commercial buildings. Information from the company has remained scarce, however, Givan said the lease may still have another year left.
“That likely means it will sit vacant until it is leased or until a new tenant makes the changes and improvements they want and are ready to move in,” Givan said. “It could be longer than a year.”
After Givan concluded her speech, the Rotary Club donated 1,500 pounds of food in her honor to Harvest Against Hunger, otherwise known as Rotary First Harvest.