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By purchasing the Misty Isle plot, buyers now own a historic cannery

Following the sale of nearly 60 acres of the sprawling Misty Isle Farms estate to four separate buyers in June, the purchase of another 5.2 acres of the estate closed in mid-August, for a price of sale of $ 500,000.

Buyers of the plot, Adrianne and Matthew Williams, were also among the buyers in June. At that time, they bought 5.15 acres and an older large house on Wax Orchard Road for $ 925,000. Their August purchase is directly adjacent to this property – the site of the former Wax Orchards fruit processing cannery.

Now, with the two transactions combined, the married couple own a key piece of Vashon’s farming history – both the 4,300 square foot farm and the 11,000 square foot production facility for what was once a thriving 243 acre business on the south end of the island called Wax Orchards. Farms.

On this expanse of land, the Wax and Sestrap families have planted and maintained cherry and apple orchards for decades, although all the land has now been sold – with more than half purchased, over time, by Development. Services of America, a food conglomerate controlled by the late Thomas Stewart, who died in 2010.

One of Stewart’s last purchases of Sestrap land, in 2007, was for the plots now owned by the Williams, where the family home and cannery are located.

Under the 2007 sale, Betsy Sestrap, the matriarch of the family who helped build a thriving product line of cider, fruit, and fruit-sweet products sold by the farm, was granted the right to continue living. on the property until his death. in 2012.

Betsy’s daughter, islander Anna Swain, said she was happy to hear that her family’s home and the adjacent cannery are once again owned by a family with young children.

Adrianne and Matthew Williams, who moved to Vashon from Tacoma, have three children who now attend Chautauqua Elementary School and McMurray Middle School.

“It was a fun and interesting place to grow up,” Swain said of her childhood home, recalling the vast expanse of land she could walk on, with only a few restrictions. “… There was always something going on, and there was always plenty of chores. So it will be a good place for the children to grow up.

Swain also said she hopes the cannery building may be given new life – something Matthew Williams is also interested in.

In an email to The Beachcomber, Matthew said he was open to ideas from islanders in terms of using the cavernous building – which in the Sestrap family’s days included a car freezer and a large space. of shop.

He and his wife bought the cannery, Matthew said, as it is only a stone’s throw from the family’s new home, and it was close enough that they were worried about what might be wrong with it. flow if they didn’t buy it. But now, he added, they are considering all the options for the building.

Currently, the site’s commercial zoning allows food processing operations, including bakeries, breweries, wineries, packaged food, and canneries.

“Our hope is that this becomes something that supports the island’s business community,” he said.

Matthew, who owns a company that orders and maintains commercial equipment for restaurants, said he would be interested to hear ideas from business owners and Vashon organizations on the potential uses of the space.

“Between the much-needed repairs to the building and the time it takes to get the permits, we think we still have time to define the vision for this,” he said. “For now, however, we are happy to be able to keep it paired with the Sestrap House and excited about the cannery’s potential to grow into something big.”

Matthew encouraged business owners and interested organizations to contact him at [email protected] with their ideas.

The purchase is the latest development in commercializing Thomas Stewart’s legacy on Vashon – the sprawling estate of Misty Isle Farms, where Stewart, a major Republican donor, once held annual picnics with guests such as Newt Gingrich and John McCain. Stewart died in 2010, in a helicopter crash, after moving to Arizona.

Unable to sell all of Misty Isle’s farms to a single buyer despite more than a decade of intermittent effort, the owners of the vast Vashon Estate had recently managed to sell it in pieces.

The Misty Isle Farm property, which consisted of 47 tax plots totaling 525 acres, is bounded by SW 220th St. to the north, 115th Ave. SW to the east, SW 232nd St. to the south, and Wax Orchard Road to the west. It is crossed by Old Mill Road.

In 2007 – the same year that Stewart’s company bought the family property and the Sestrap cannery – the entire estate was listed for $ 125 million. But as the Great Recession hit and the years have passed, the asking price has dropped dramatically – to $ 43 million in 2014, then to $ 28 million in 2017, before homeowners. decide to market the property in smaller pieces.

King County is interested in purchasing the entire western half of Misty Isle Farms, including recently sold properties, for conservation purposes.

In a 2019 application to the county’s Conservation Futures program, which funds the acquisition of open space, the county’s land and water resources division said it hoped to eventually purchase 228 acres of Misty Isle – all to l west of Old Mill Road.

The acquisition would “preserve farmland, increase recreation opportunities and protect ecological values,” the demand says, citing the property’s habitats including pastures, streams and wetlands, as well as 75 acres of forest. deciduous, coniferous and mixed.

However, the division’s request was for money that year to help buy just 93 acres – mostly bordering Old Mill Road – which did not include recently sold properties. Instead, the county’s targeted plots included the pasture that is home to the annual Vashon Sheepdog Classic and much of the wooded Fisher Creek Corridor, a stream that supports cutthroat trout, coho, and chum salmon.

Conservation Futures has approved $ 2.6 million for purchase in 2020.

Greg Rabourn, of the King County Water and Land Resources Division, told The Beachcomber that the county continues to pursue the preservation of this part of the Fisher Creek watershed and that the county’s interests are not affected by the recent sales.



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