N95 Mask-Maker Coming to K2 site? Maybe.

The owners of the former K2 manufacturing site might be moving closer to signing a tenant.

The owners of the former K2 manufacturing site might be moving closer to signing a tenant.

The property, which includes a 180,000-square-foot building and surrounding 17 acres, was purchased in 2018 by Sound Properties, LLC, of which islander Brad Middling is a partner. So far under the new ownership, the building has not had a major tenant.

But last week, a press release written by Maskco Technologies, Inc., which manufactures N95 and surgical masks, said that as part of an expansion of its operations, the company expected to open a facility on Vashon at the K2 site in Aug. 2021.

The press release, dated Nov. 11, was published on the website of 69 WFMZ-TV, a virtual television station in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and subsequently found its way onto at least one islander’s Facebook page, where some islanders cheered the news.

However, according to Middling’s business partner, Mike Kirkland, a deal has not yet been sealed with Maskco, though talks with the business are in progress.

Kirkland’s company, MK Property Services, is in charge of leasing and marketing for the property.

“I haven’t signed anything yet, but we’re in discussion,” Kirkland said, when reached by phone by The Beachcomber. He added that he was also in discussions with other potential tenants as well.

According to its press release, Maskco, founded in April 2020, has recently formed a strategic manufacturing partnership and investment with Gredale, LLC, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer and distributor of personal protection equipment and textiles used to manufacture personal protection equipment.

Under the terms of the partnership, the companies also plan to have production facilities in Los Angeles, California and Jacksonville, Texas, with a goal of producing approximately 160,000,000 N95 protective face masks per month.

A new tenancy by a manufacturer would return the K2 building to its roots.

Public records show the oldest portion of the building dates back to 1946, but the Kirschners — who owned K2 — bought the property in 1956, according to island historian Bruce Haulman. In the 1960s and early 1970s, K2 grew rapidly, and they built a production plant and then soon expanded it.

K2’s peak production period was in 1990 when it made 450,000 pairs of skis, according to Haulman, and its peak employment came in 1999 when 750 people worked there. That same year, however, K2 laid off 200 employees when production moved to China. The company left the building completely in 2006, and the building was placed on the market.

In 2008, islander Dick Sontgerath signed a letter of intent with K2 to purchase it for a community hub that would have housed the Vashon Health Center, Granny’s Attic, several nonprofits and the Vashon Library. That purchase did not come to pass.

In 2010, after islander Tom Bangasser had filed a lawsuit over the county’s decision to change the building’s zoning from industrial to commercial, K2 increased its marketing efforts, offering the building for $3 million.

In 2014, the Colorado-based Edipure, a marijuana edibles company, had a contract to buy the building, then backed out because of uncertainty around the King County permitting and rezoning processes that would have been required.

Sound Properties purchased the building and land for $1.230 million on July 19, 2018.

The K2 site is known to be contaminated from its manufacturing days, with petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, pesticides and metals, among other substances.

Kirkland said the process for environmental remediation for the property, overseen by Middling, was also ongoing.

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