After more than a year of hard work, the building that husband and wife team Ira and Alisa Spector call The Landing is open for business. And the structure that was formerly known as the Key Center Trading Post never looked better.

The Landing, formerly known as the Key Center Trading Post, has undergone major renovations to become a retail and office building. Photo by William Dietz

For 31 years, Don Fegley restored and sold wood stoves out of the building, and with the exception of a fresh coat of paint, the outside of the structure looks much as it did before.  Which is somewhat deceptive, given how much effort went into it.

Work on the exterior began shortly after the Spectors took possession of the property in May 2005, and continued five days a week until January 2006, when the couple turned their attention to the interior and have been working on that six-days a week ever since. They kept some of the building’s architectural features like the lofty ceilings, and original wood floors, while giving the interior an open contemporary feel.

The 3,000- square-foot space has been divided into five suites and the Spectors have firm commitments on two of them — and that’s an interesting story in itself. Even though the couple originally visualized The Landing as being home to a variety of retail shops, both of the incoming businesses fall into a different category. And that may be indicative of changing trends and the Key Center business environment.

Gardner’s Investment Properties, which is owned by Marti Gardner, and Mulberry Street Marketing and PR, which is owned by Ruth Danielson, have been run out of homes in the past. But Ira Spector says the pendulum is swinging back toward formal office space.

“People need a space that doesn’t have a washer and dryer next to it,” Spector says. “A lot of people have worked out of their homes for years, and that has its advantages, but some of them want to escape the distractions.”

As for trends on the Peninsula, Spector had this to say, “I definitely think (Key Center) is on the up tick. I obviously thought there would be enough local interest to make (The Landing) work… We’re one of six or seven businesses that have changed hands in Key Center over the last 24 months. That’s one-third of the total business community. People are retiring — and the area is growing.”

Starting a new business is never easy, however, and like other local business owners, Spector is frustrated by the restrictions on signage. Especially since his business, like Blondie’s restaurant, is off Key Peninsula Highway.

“Signage is a real problem,” Spector says.  “The county is very restrictive.” The businessman went on to say that he and his wife are working with officials to clarify what can and can’t be done.

It’s a problem that Spector is uniquely qualified to understand, since he received a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from University of California, Irvine, in 1974. But rather than plan cities, Spector spent two seasons fishing in Alaska, and a number of years as both a shipwright and custom cabinet maker for yachts. That was followed by 15 years in sales and marketing — and his present contracting/remodeling work under the name NextStep Systems Inc.

Last, but not least, Ira Spector is also the inventor of a device called the “FaucetBeanie,” which he describes as a “cold-weather insulating faucet cover without any hooks, bands, or straps.” Which, in case you happen to need one, can be purchased at either one of the ACE hardware stores in Gig Harbor.

For more information about both The Landing and the FaucetBeanie, visit www.GoNextStep.com.

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