Historic building brings together eclectic mix of businesses
In the Box Factory, customers will find a cobbler’s bench at Gear Fix, a coffee shop dedicated to cold-brewed coffee, an art gallery, a barbershop, a pole dancing exercise studio and a tour company.
The eclectic mix of stores is exactly what owner Killian Pacific envisioned when it bought the former Brooks-Scanlon box factory in 2013. After the latest round of renovations, the barn-red building on Industrial Way is fully leased with 34 businesses.
Finding the right tenant mix and making targeted renovations didn’t occur overnight, said Jeremy McPherson, Killian Pacific vice president of development. The Vancouver, Washington-based development firm spent millions of dollars and six years to retrofit the historic structure that started life making wooden boxes for fruit, ammunition, milk and soap. The Box Factory preserves a slice of Bend’s history while providing space for entrepreneurs. It is one of three historic sites left in Bend that preserve the community’s logging history.
From The Bend Tour Company’s corner of the building on Industrial Way, operations director John Flannery admires the two-story structure’s ancient wood beams. He shows off the ax marks and staples left behind on a 10-by-10 beam support in the shop.
“A few years ago, this was a dead zone,” said Flannery, whose company rents out Segways, ATVs and so-called Cycle Pubs. “It’s such a convenient location between downtown and the Old Mill. I love the history of this building. It’s one of the last standing large structures of the old mill days in Bend.”
The Box Factory sits between Industrial Way and NW Arizona Avenue and has become a main draw of the neighborhood south of downtown and north of the Old Mill District.
“In all honesty, we weren’t certain what we had bought in terms of the history of the building,” McPherson said. “We’ve (restored) to what it used to be.”
Revitalizing a building
Killian did bank on the fact that the orientation of the building and its location would allow it to become a marketplace and a destination, McPherson said. The idea, McPherson said, was to create synergy with the other businesses along Arizona Avenue, which at the time had not seen redevelopment.
After the city lowered the speed limit on NW Arizona Avenue to 25 mph, pedestrians felt safer to walk between businesses. The Box Factory’s most recent remodel turned the NW Arizona Avenue side of the building into storefronts with a 500-foot-long brick paver promenade.
From the onset, Killian wanted to pay tribute to the history of Bend by preserving the original woodwork, arches and columns, McPherson said. Sandblasting was used to bring back the wood used in the original factory and yet create a haven for shoppers and diners.
“When we started our efforts, we didn’t know of some fire department and building requirements, but we learned,” McPherson said. “We knew we needed some of these fire safety systems, but the full scope certainly wasn’t fully understood until well after we embarked upon this effort.”
Killian Pacific bought the 90,000-square-foot building for $6.35 million and about 5 acres to the east for an additional $1.23 million, according to county records.
“We’ve spent a lot of money and effort upgrading the building to code and to get it fully leased and tenanted,” McPherson said. “The property already had character.”
Inside the newly constructed breezeway next to Riff Coffee is a newly opened business, Sekse, a dance and pole fitness studio that opened May 1. While the breezeway features roughly hewn beams and historical photos, inside Sekse’s studio, it’s all sleek black and white and gleaming chrome.
“We wanted to disrupt our space,” said Kimberly “Roach” Yannariello, Sekse founder and program developer. “We wanted it to be different from Bend’s rustic look. We wanted our space to be urban and sleek.”
When Yannariello and her partners were creating their business plan in 2018, they began to scout around for a space. The Box Factory fit their vision and their targeted demographic: women over 30 looking for a nonjudgmental place to work out.
“The Box Factory helped flush out our concept,” said co-founder and CEO Christina “Biggs” Kekke. “The space was a great help in shaping what our business was to become. We’re not simply a dance studio. We’re all about adults and fitness. We’re about becoming a place where you have fun and feel young.”
Kekke’s business fit right into the theme of the Box Factory.
At each of the nearby shopping areas, there’s something different for consumers, said Ben Hemson, Bend Economic Development Department business advocate. The Old Mill District has major retailers. Downtown offers small businesses, and at the Box Factory, there are a lot of startup businesses.
“What makes a community great for doing business is creating places to go that are easy to get to and create the ability to walk around,” Hemson said. “If people want to come here, it makes for a vibrant environment. I’m tickled to see what’s happening down there.”
— Reporter: 541-633-2117, firstname.lastname@example.org
34 tenants total, with expansions coming
The Box Factory is fully leased, according to owners Killian Pacific. The following tenants and two more, who have yet to be disclosed, are scheduled to open or complete expansions soon:
• Miyagi Ramen restaurant
• Bledsoe Family Winery wine bar
• Modern Games, formerly Modern Boardshop (expanding)
• Brown Owl (expanding)
• Immersion Brewing (expanding)
Source: Killian Pacific