Redefining an Iconic Bellingham Landmark into CorePhysio’s Flagship Clinic

When you drive along State Street, it is easy to see the old Skipper’s sign on the corner of Kansas and Grant Street. The current sign is a 30 foot angled bright red anchor making it hard to miss. “It’s definitely the most frequently asked question when it comes to this project,” chuckles CorePhysio’s CEO Elizabeth Hampton, “everyone wants to know what we’re going to do with the sign!” After months of brainstorming between Hampton and Jim Sutterfield along with the experienced design and engineering staff of Signs Plus, they finally arrived at a successful design.

New Owners

Hampton purchased the building from the owners of Stampadoodle Paper Café in June 2019. The input of the entire CorePhysio team helped shape the new space. The building was designed by Neil McCarthy/RMC Architects and Chuckanut Builders. They started construction in September 2019. The project was to set be completed in June 2020, however, Covid-19 had an impact on the project timeline. CorePhysio is an essential healthcare company and the project was considered essential as well. The construction continued through the pandemic while following safe practices.

Revamped Building

CorePhysio will occupy 4800 square feet of the building in Suite 100. The level entrance and nearly 40 parking spots are incredibly meaningful to rehab clients. “Level and ample parking is mandatory for any PT clinic,” Hampton states. “When people are hurting, they need easy parking access to their rehab team.” Suite 105 faces Grant Street with large windows, lots of light, and restroom access. Represented by Jason Loeb of Windermere, the 900 square foot suite is available for lease by a complementary business. The space is ideal for another healthcare provider. However, a restaurant or coffee shop would also be well received.

Sign Design

The design process starts with a conversation between the creator and the client. Once the vision is established the art department creates drawings to help imagine the sign. Permit drawings clearly show what works and what does not. Small details such as contrast, letter styles, and scale are commonly overlooked. That is why the difference between great and poor design is subtle. It is not obvious to the common eye why one sign looks better than another. When you start to notice the small things, you can pick up on the high-quality craftsmanship and design. It is important to respect the vision of the client as well as guide them to help their sign be effective and stand out.

Finding a successful design solution took a good amount of time, shared Hampton. “We went through many different design iterations and worked hard to come up with a solution that looked like it both belonged to the building and was timeless in its design. Finally, I thought of the old signpost and the design evolved from there.” Tim Parks, Signs Plus lead designer, came up with options that met both the aesthetic and brand appeal of CorePhysio, as well as the ability for it to be safely engineered to sustain wind load and other key factors. Capturing the height and appropriate angle was essential to make the most of the visibility.

History of the Skippers, Stamadoodle, and CorePhysio Sign

The sign was originally a Skipper’s Seafood and Chowder house which used to be very popular, however went out of business in 2007. It was one of Bellingham’s iconic landmarks. The sign had an anchor sticking out of the ground and a rope wrapped around a pole. Stampadoodle took over the building and removed the anchor and rope. They left the cross beam, changed the sign face, and painted the pole bright red. Once CorePhysio bought the building the goal was to give a fresh face to an old sign and building. The only thing that remains the same about the old sign is the angled pole, everything else has received a makeover. The reconstruction of the sign includes: removal of the top of the sign and redefining the base with siding similar to the building. As well as welding a crossbeam for CorePhysio’s sign.

CorePhysio plans to move into its flagship clinic in mid-September. CorePhysio has three clinics (Grant Street, Fairhaven, and Squalicum), is locally owned, and celebrated its 16th anniversary this year.

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