Everett Skate Deck, a place of youth and romance, will close
Courtney Simons (right) helps her daughter, Whitaker, 5, put on her skates at Everett Skate Deck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
EVERETT — Ryan Acklus grew up on the hand-turned maple rotunda of the Everett Skate Deck.
His family has owned the business since 1961, when it was located at 2201 California St., just east of Broadway. In 1976, his grandparents, Bobbie and Eric Englund, moved him to 9700 19th Ave. SE, where it has been since.
“I was practically born here,” Acklus said at one of the rink-side tables during a break from cleanup and set-up before weekly family home evening.
Acklus remembers riding with his grandfather on a bus he bought to pick up young skaters from Lake Stevens, Monroe and Sultan for Friday and Saturday night sessions. He would get a milkshake out of his membership.
There were skate sessions all night long from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Part of the action included a one-mile run, much like the roller skating equivalent of a dance marathon. Even Acklus can’t remember how many laps it took to complete a mile.
They would set up a screen for a movie in the west corner of the rink. At 2 a.m., the sugar crash hit many teens and tweens, Acklus said.
From his adolescence, he took care of the music. The tunes are an important part of the culture, whether it’s competitive roller figure skating or open sessions where crushes are forged and perhaps hands are held for the first time.
All of this could soon be history.
Everett Skate Deck’s last day of business is Sunday, April 3.
A developer offered to buy the homestead during the pandemic. They weren’t sure after the state’s initial shutdown of non-essential industries.
But when restrictions persisted and business stalled, they agreed to sell the 3.72-acre property valued at $2,039,000, according to Snohomish County records. Details of the sale were not available.
The decision was not easy for the owners of a four-generation family business.
“I feel bad because we owe the community everything,” said Acklus, who owns the business with his brother Cory and mother Teri.
Next door, a backhoe operator tore up the concrete where Alfy’s restaurant once stood just two months ago on SE 19th Avenue.
Without a new location, Everett Skate Deck will join the pizzeria’s fate to become rubble. The owners have searched and are “actively looking” for a new space to open the rink. But the same booming real estate market that has pushed up home prices is also affecting commercial land.
“We’ve traveled the area,” Ryan Acklus said.
Pacific Ridge Homes, the Bothell-based developer and part of DR Horton, proposes to build 85 townhouses on former Alfy’s and Everett Skate Deck properties. Spread over 13 buildings, the three-story townhouses would each have a two-car garage and two or three bedrooms.
As of last week, none of the permits had been approved by the city as staff reviewed them.
There is a virtual public hearing on the development proposal at 9 a.m. on March 31.
These past few days have been tough for Ezra Thompson, coach of the Everett Eagles skating team since 2008. He has been an avid skater most of his life and roller-skated before founding the team.
It started with a student. Today, it has about thirty students from 5 to 18 years old.
Recently, Thompson taught his 5-year-old niece to skate, another in a long line of students who learned the basics from him over the years.
“I wouldn’t be here, and these kids wouldn’t be here, without them,” Thompson said of the Acklus and Englund families. “They’ve always cut costs. They do not practice price gouging.
Admission with skate rental is $13.
Like other sports and hobbies, the ranks of skating have changed over the decades.
Skating is experiencing a new wave of popularity. The Washington Post wrote about the sport’s growth during the pandemic in 2020. Canadian network CBC hailed the last year as a renaissance for roller skating.
For the past few months, Acklus said the rink has been packed on weekends as COVID cases dwindle and mask requirements are set to end this week.
But the deal is done. They’re due out of the building in May, and there’s a lot of gear and gear to clean up by then.
They have nearly 1,000 pairs of skates, vending machines, kiosks and more that they hope to stockpile with a view to reopening somewhere one day. They are even thinking of removing the floor of the wooden rink, the same that was installed in 1976, rather than seeing it demolished.
Prior to the sale, the family was redecorating with a retro look, including putting old skates on the wall and memorabilia from Everett Skate Deck’s past. Sorting through those archives, they found old letters from skaters to his grandparents, including some where they apologized for fighting and thanked the Englunds for letting them back on the rink.
“Skating is and will be a great American pastime,” Acklus said.