Casey Roloff’s vision of Seabrook has now taken full shape, but the founder and president of the fastest growing beach town on the Northwest coast is far from completing the dream that started more than a decade ago when he visited the forested bluff above the Pacific Ocean.
Roloff in an interview recently talked about the future plans for Seabrook as well as how the vacation home development has managed to become a community of its own while reaching out to the North Beach community at large as a source of employment opportunities and of local philanthropy.
“That’s the biggest reason we started the (Seabrook) Foundation — we wanted to make it clear from the beginning that we wanted to make a difference in the communities around us, and that we weren’t just all about Seabrook,” Roloff said in advance of this weekend’s Fall Showcase of Homes.
The Foundation has now donated to numerous local groups, such as the Green Lantern Lunch program to feed needy children, local food banks, projects, and non-profits.
“It’s very much a passion of ours to make these communities stronger,” Roloff said.
Roloff knows there will always be some skeptics about Seabrook’s imprint on the North Beach community at large.
“You are never going to be accepted by everybody, but I think people are starting to see the impacts we are having on the area,” Roloff said. “Obviously, the more success Seabrook has, the more the Foundation is fueled.”
One percent of every sale is set aside for the Foundation.
“My biggest goal right now is to see a boys and girls club out here in the North Beach,” he said. “It could be a positive environment for the kids in this area just to have a place to go. We are talking to a lot of people right now as to how to make that happen.”
Seabrook now is going through a commercial development phase even as it continues a steady sales pace of new homes, with newer ocean view development along with a Farm District. In the first part of 2018, construction will start on a new Farm House, which will have a demonstration kitchen with 8-10 rooms known as the Heather Inn. It will include a new Spa Elizabeth, and top chefs from the Seattle area will be featured on weekends to do a farm table dinner and demonstration. Meanwhile, the market for new vacation homes remains steady at Seabrook, something that suits the determined planning of its founder.
Roloff said the most homes sold in a year has been 42, with a low of 29, and the pace has been carefully controlled since the region recovered from the past recession.
“Even when the market strengthened, we were staying steady. We could have sold 100 houses a year back then, but we didn’t want to. We wanted to keep the vision and keep the quality up because in the long term it benefits us and benefits the whole area.”
At first, Seabrook had to build its first 100 homes on the east side of State Route 109 under an agreement with the county, but it has gradually built up along the more scenic west side over the past several years. Now, Seabrook’s commercial potential is being realized as a result of the growth.
“We have done no marketing to retailers and they are coming to us. They see the opportunity in being a part of our Town Center,” Roloff said.
With 26,000 square feet of new retail space under development, Seabrook soon will have a 4,000-square-foot grocery store, with a similar-sized retro arcade below and a three-room movie theater with luxury seating for adults and a family room for more family oriented movie showings. There will be a toy store, book store, two new restaurants, a jewelry store, boutique, specialized yarn store, art gallery, even a brewery with outdoor seating.
“The brewmaker will be there and you will be able to watch everything going on,” Roloff said.
Seabrook now is 75 percent to 100 percent booked with the existing number of homes for every weekend of the year ahead: “We run a really high occupancy rate year round, and we always try to in-fill the slow weekends with our most exciting events,” he said of the strategy. Most guests and buyers come from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
“This is being fueled by the growth in the Puget Sound and the pent-up demand for a beach town that is closer to the masses, and that’s a big reason why we have been so successful,” Roloff said.
One of the biggest issues is labor force, and Roloff is thinking long term about how to maintain and support a growing group of Seabrook-based workers. Currently, Seabrook has staff who are taking hospitality courses at Cornell University online, and he says Grays Harbor College is seeking to create a hospitality program.
In the peak season, 130 are people on the Seabrook payroll with at least 400-600 subcontractors working on site at any given time. The new retail expansion is expected to add another 75 jobs if not more in the next year alone.
“We employ a lot of local people here,” Roloff said. “… And a lot of the businesses are experiencing 20 percent to 30 percent growth per year.”
Still on the drawing board are condos above the second phase of new retail, along with a roof-top bar and restaurant that will have surround viewing of the ocean and the town in the background. “Looking back into the town is pretty neat when it’s all built out,” Roloff says.