Biz Buzz: New energy brings multiple benefits to Enterprise

Andy McKee takes a practice shot in his new indoor archery range in Enterprise.

I first heard about the work that the McKee brothers were doing in conjunction with an announcement that there would be an indoor archery range in Enterprise.

That was exciting enough for me, but when I went to see Andy McKee of Joseph I found out that he and his brother Todd (who lives in Michigan) have been buying buildings in Enterprise, fixing them up, and giving them new life for a couple of years.

This is exactly the sort of energy we want to encourage.

Here are a couple of young guys who believe Enterprise is a good place to invest in – a place that will attract more business.

Not only that, these guys are remodeling and creating rentals – and that’s something the entire county desperately needs.

Andy is the flight instructor at the Joseph Airport, but like many people who live here, he needs at least two jobs to make it in Wallowa County; thus, the business and residential expansion business.

The Brothers McKee’s most recent acquisition is the 1916 Bowlby Stone building at 107 River Street (across River Street from El Bajio and kitty-corner from Ace). The building was formerly owned by the late Doug Terry and housed Friends Restaurant in addition to providing several rental units upstairs.

The interior stone walls bear chisel marks and back in the day when the stone was brought from the Bowlby Stone Quarry out on Swamp Creek (for $1 a cord), the soft stone was hand-sawn as well.

“It’s really unique to our area,” said Andy McKee. “You don’t see this anywhere else. These old buildings are such a neat part of Enterprise, it’s fun to be part of preserving it while upgrading it for someone who may want to rent it.”

That upgrading is extensive.

The McKees first got Ralph Swinehart of Wallowa Mountain Engineering to inspect the building and declare it safe to remodel. Now, Melville Stone is doing the “tacking and pointing” on the exterior stone. That’s scraping out some of the crumbled mortar and refilling with glue and new mortar.

Inside, the building has been reinforced, gutted of all of its lathe and plaster and dividing walls, stone and brick exposed on the outer walls, double pane windows replacing the old, and highly efficient electric and heating installed. Even the light bulbs (historically appropriate Edison-style bulbs) are highly efficient with an entire six-light fixture pulling just 24 watts.

There are now two very modern, high-efficiency business rental spaces being finished downstairs, an archery range in the basement, and a fourth apartment being completed upstairs.

The fourth apartment will be a 1,000 square-foot luxury apartment with one and one-half baths, quartz counter tops, high-end appliances, circle sawn fir floor, walk-in closet and more.

The archery range is 69-feet long by 18-feet wide, carpeted, and beautifully lit by three LED flat-panel “skylights” that feature a bright blue sky. There is also a viewing area behind glass and that will include a couch, a music system and other comforts.

“This place looked like the set of a horror movie when we started,” Andy McKee said. “We tried to think of a way to use the space that would benefit the community and the archery lane seemed a good idea.”

Andy posted an announcement on Facebook and got 150 responses from the community, enthusiastic about the idea and that sealed it.

There will be a monthly membership; the range will be open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s a really neat space, now, and the virtual skylights make it so you don’t feel like you’re in a basement,” McKee said.

A grand opening and open house is planned for the end of April.

To purchase a membership to use the archery range, email andy@eaglecapflight.com.

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