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In a way, he's how Hewitt Avenue got its groove

Michael Whitney photo

The Hodges Building after its restoration and reopening.

EVERETT — One could say building rehabilitator Pete Sikov is a secret part of Hewitt Avenue's revival.
Through a vision that's unfolded over 20 years from buying Everett's lesser-loved buildings, he's incubated small businesses while transforming downtown's main drag.
This is now a historic arts and culture district, Sikov, 68, emphasized. 
It fits a vision that seems to energize him with joy. "Do It On Hewitt" is one of his favorite sayings.
Sikov roves downtown almost every day. The tenants of his buildings know him and do not hesitate to chat. For an investor, he's hands-on: He goes as far as sweeping the sidewalk as his buildings' caretaker.
As he amassed properties, through curation he hand-selected and chose to rent to galleries, music venues, eateries and antiques shops, such as the one that took over the home of the old Van Winkle's Furniture store. In his buildings are some of Everett's favorite haunts: The Black Lab Gallery and its offshoot The Lucky Dime, That Chicken Place, JaRay’s Grill and Lounge (formerly Sidekicks and The Whammy Bar), the new MyMyToyStore toy store and more.
Out went the pawn shops and the bail bond offices that occupied this stretch. Hewitt's seediness got shaken out of the picture.
There's a lot to like about Everett, he said.
Within six blocks of Hewitt between Colby and Broadway, Sikov owns 13 of the approximately 18 buildings, land records show. Entire half-blocks. Hundreds of years of history held under numerous LLCs.
Six more are along Broadway, he said.
More historic properties of his, once in disarray, are up east Hewitt. 
The Hodges Building at Hewitt and Rockefeller stands almost at the epicenter.
He has been piecing the Hodges Building back together years now after a devastating fire in 2013.
It got final approval to reopen in May and tenants began moving in this summer. The first floor is home to the coffeehouse and bookstore PNW Artisans.
It’s sited perfectly for anyone to work and live in downtown. You could walk to your job, Sikov noted. 

The Hodges restoration

The fire in the 1903-built Hodges started on a crisp December night in 2013.
It was contained to one room: Apartment 402. It’s one of the larger apartments inside, now redone with cream walls and brand-new bathroom fixtures like the rest.
Nobody knows exactly how it started. It wasn’t the building, Sikov said. Investigators cleared that quickly, he said.
The woman who lived there was to be evicted, but was still there when the Hodges burned, he said. She lost her life.
The damage was from the tons of water flooded into the building to control the fire, Sikov said. Dozens of people lost their domiciles.
Restoring any building requires perseverance, Sikov said.
Prior to the fire, city fire inspectors made a case about technical violations to address. The fire wiped much of that.
After the fire, to restore the Hodges, it needed to be fully re-plumbed and re-wired.
But first, the old elevator had to go. It meant a huge section going up the building’s center had to be torn out and reconstructed. For a while, a five-story pit was the Hodges’ middle until the new elevator came.
Every room has a full sprinkler system. Each room has new bathroom fixtures and walls. Fire doors automatically close.
The lights are all LED.
Under the new stairwell lies history: The cubbyhole door is made from a coat-check door taken out of the Olympic Hotel of Seattle.
Ninety percent of the exterior was deep-scrubbed. Soot remains in some edges of the brickwork. It’s part of the history, Sikov said.
The outside marble is all-new.
When asked why he did so much for the Hodges — it cost millions of dollars — he replied with one of his principles: “If you’re going to do something, do it right,” Sikov said while riding in its brand-new elevator.
The Hodges could have been lost to a city concept to redevelop the whole block of Hewitt between Rockefeller and Oakes avenues. It was in conjuction with a new county courthouse site which ultimately didn’t pan out. An offer did get made on the Hodges, Sikov said, but he declined it as too low. The city’s Hewitt Avenue redevelopment plan fizzled when the county dropped out.

Do It On Hewitt

Born in Rochester, New York, and in Washington state since boyhood, Sikov began buying and rehabbing buildings in his late 20s. 
He began his labors in the Rainier Valley of Seattle. The century-old Columbia City Theater, which he recently sold, was his restoration.
He entered Everett around 2000, he said.
One of his earliest Everett investments he got wrangled into, the Cosmopolitan Theatre at 1908 Hewitt and a few nearby properties, were in the two city blocks taken by eminent domain to build the events arena at 2000 Hewitt Ave.
Two of Sikov’s buildings bookended the next block over: The Hodges and the McCrossen.
The Hodges could be spared. The McCrossen could not, after a three-alarm fire that claimed a life in 2012. The city ordered the 1894 building to be demolished in 2013. Only its empty lot remains.
Off of Hewitt, he bought the former American Legion — The House — at 2818 Wetmore Ave. from the Van Winkle family, where a furniture store has moved in. He also bought their furniture store’s building.
Just this December, he bought the former Tang Wong Restaurant at Broadway and Wall when the owners retired. One of his restaurateurs in another building, The Bayside Cafe, grew from their space on Hewitt to this bigger site.
It’s not unheard of that businesses have grown from one Sikov building to the next. It’s like an ecosphere.
While he built his first roots in Seattle, he grew his work in Everett. He saw fit to move his office from El Corazon in Seattle to Everett today.
This is the man who bought and tried to preserve Jimi Hendrix’s childhood home in Renton.
With the family’s permission, he’s had a small quantity of wood from the house repurposed into guitars. One of these guitar owners is Slash of Guns N’ Roses. Sikov said Slash keeps this guitar dearly.
The rest of Hendrix's childhood home is dismantled but saved in storage.
What’s old but unique is prized in Sikov’s eyes.
He’s salvaged parts of other buildings to bring charms into his own. If ever inside the Everett Flea Market, that yellow building at 2112 Hewitt Ave. by Hewitt and Broadway, look up. The ceiling has a stained glass window hanging above from the building’s prior use as a contractor’s hub.
The McCrossen Building’s lot is waiting for the right developer.
He restores buildings, not builds them, he said. He has no desire to develop his own building here. But a joint partner or a buyer could do something remarkable. Just this spring, a company he spoke with sent a drone up to survey it, Sikov said.



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