Nearly two months after it was closed because of safety concerns, the B&I Public Marketplace in Lakewood is back in business.
Shops were open and customers shopping Friday at the marketplace, likely best known as the home of Ivan the gorilla from 1964 to 1994.
“I’m elated that the B&I is back open,” said Tona Fletcher-Mayes, owner of the Extraordinary Hair Design salon. “Many people have come through here who missed the B&I so much. It’s a historical building and a great part of the community.”
Marsay “Bravo the Barber” Davis was happy as well.
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“We’re a big staple in the community,” he said. “A lot of people count on us to be here.”
The marketplace at 8012 South Tacoma Way ran into trouble with local officials in August over various safety issues.
It was closed Aug. 16 after Lakewood and West Pierce Fire and Rescue officials found electrical and other fire hazards related to sprinklers and fire-suppression equipment earlier in the year.
The city posted an announcement Friday on its website, saying “all critical public safety issues have been addressed and the city has deemed the building safe to occupy.”
The building was reopened after inspections by Lakewood building officials, West Pierce Fire representatives and officials from Tacoma Power and state Department of Labor & Industries.
Portions of the building will remain closed until they comply with state and local codes, according to the city.
The B&I was allowed to reopen on condition “that work continue to bring the remainder of the building into full compliance with state and local code,” according to the website.
The work must be completed by April 9, the city said.
Areas still deemed “unsafe to occupy” include the pet store “due to unpermitted electrical work and lack of sufficient fire sprinkler protection,” and any commercial food concessions that have not passed “a confidence test as approved by West Pierce Fire & Rescue.”
“Some of the food vendor spaces are open because they’ve passed the necessary tests, but not everyone has yet, so as they pass they’ll be reopened,” said Brynn Grimley, the city’s communications manager.
The building was sold to Value Investment Group Inc. in January 2012 for $5.2 million.
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After the B&I closed, “the building owner worked with local and state officials to ensure proper repairs were made to the building,” the city’s said in its statement Friday.
Bringing the building into compliance included “hiring professional, licensed electrical contractors, fire protection engineers and architects to address the safety hazards identified.” according to the city.
According to a Thursday letter from Lakewood to Value Investment Group, work that remains to be done includes:
▪ Completing sprinkler head replacements.
▪ Tenants passing electrical inspections by West Pierce Fire and L&I.
▪ Removing unused low-voltage wiring.
▪ Providing the city’s building department and West Pierce Fire with an as-built architectural drawing and complete tenant list.
▪ Submitting a structural analysis of the foundation, supporting structure and roof to the city no later than Jan. 9. Any work needed as a result of the analysis must be done by April 9.
▪ Keeping a lean-to attached to the southwest area of the building inaccessible and removing it by Jan. 9.
The building started as a hardware store in the 1940s, and in recent years has hosted a series of small businesses.
Charles Shin, special situation manager for the building and son of the building’s owners, told The News Tribune on Friday that they intend to meet the deadlines set by the city.
In addition to the repairs, Shin is working on a “new vision for B&I — new marketing to get the mall going.”
“There have been concerns and false rumors that B&I was gone for good,” he said. “B&I will survive. We want to let the community know we’ve invested in this and we’re here for the long run.”
News Tribune archives contributed to this report.