Puyallup: News

For years, a downtown Puyallup building stood empty. Now two business partners are turning it into a community center

Puyallup business partners to create food cart pod community center

Puyallup resident Shawn Manley purchased the former Pioneer Food and Gas Co. property in downtown Puyallup. Manley and his business partner, Tacoma resident Josh Harris, have plans to turn the property into Generous Corner, a food cart pod business
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Puyallup resident Shawn Manley purchased the former Pioneer Food and Gas Co. property in downtown Puyallup. Manley and his business partner, Tacoma resident Josh Harris, have plans to turn the property into Generous Corner, a food cart pod business

The building is hard to miss.

With bright blue roofing and shuttered windows, the building at West Pioneer and Second Street Southwest in downtown Puyallup has been vacant for years.

And for years, Shawn Manley has stared at it from across the street as he worked out of Anthem Coffee for 15 years doing consulting work.

Then, four years ago, he got an idea.

“I travel a lot," Manley said, "and I’ve seen food cart pods and community centers that are a real attraction. I just kept looking at what I thought was the ugliest building, the ugliest piece of property in the city, and kept thinking, it’d be cool to make it the best-looking and the best community resource.”

The longtime Puyallup resident got to work on a business plan for the future community center, which is down the street from where he lives with his wife, Cheryl. He has two children, 19-year-old Hailey and 20-year-old Andy.

As time passed, property values appreciated and the Manleys were able to sell a Tacoma rental home they'd bought in 2006 to help raise some of the capital.

Finally, about three weeks ago, Manley purchased the property for $172,000. Formerly the Pioneer Food and Gas Co., the building had been closed for 13 years and originally listed for $1.2 million.

Manley partnered on the project with Tacoma resident Josh Harris. Harris, owner of Integrity Construction Group, does tenant improvement work at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.

“He presented this about a year ago,” Harris said. “We were kind of looking at it feasibility-wise and finance-wise and things just kind of came into fruition. Finances lined up, timing lined up.”

Manley and Harris plan to call the business Generous Corner. The name comes from the original name of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, spuyaləpabš (Spoy-all-up-obsh), which means "generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter our lands."

“There is a lot of history behind it," Manley said. "The designs we’re working with really honor the legacy of the hop heritage, the pioneer spirit and to some degree, the spuyaləpabš tribe, which was here before any settlers came.”

In their construction on the 7,500 square-foot property, Manley and Harris plan to double the size of the 1,000-square-foot building by adding a second floor. The preliminary design concepts show a tap room, Hop Kiln, on the first and second floors and spaces for food carts and a commissary kitchen.

They plan to start light demolition and construction soon, and set up a chain-link fence around the property last week.

“Realistically, we’re probably looking at November to January for the structure to be complete,” Harris said.

The partners want to eventually offer fresh produce and a fruit stand, an ice cream cart and wood-fired pizza. They hope to bring in vendors to sell food or ice cream this summer.

“One of my early inspirations (was) when I was growing up, the normal family routine after church was people got together for potlucks; they would share food with people in their homes," Manley said. "People don’t really do that anymore.”.

“My goal is to see all kinds of deep family and friend relationships being made here on site,” he added.

A food-cart pod model is unique in that various tenants are working out of the same space, Manley said.

“It’s really about making everybody successful,” he said. “If all the tenants here are successful, if we all can create a community environment, then people will come and hang out.”

Manley and Harris are aiming for modern designs that create a welcoming feel. They want to use fire in their design, including gas- and wood-burning fireplaces.

“We’re really into a very open, warm, inviting space,” Manley said.

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison
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