Editor’s note: This is the final installment of our “What happened to ...” series updating stories from the last year.
Greg Meakin’s plan to build an ice skating rink and event center on the old Hornstra Farm in Castle Rock has a name — “The Rink of Dreams ... in Castle Rock” — but he’s still waiting to close the land deal and submit plans to the city.
“The project is skating along smoothly and quietly. You will not hear (much) about this project. I am doing it the complete opposite way most large projects are done. I am still lining up financing. This is phase 1.”
Meakin, a effusive Montreal native who moved to the U.S. in 1983 at age 24, first disclosed his plans for the project in September. He expects to make a major announcement on Feb. 14, he said Friday.
“There is incredible interest coming out of Canada for this project and it is likely this will be funded by Canadian money.”
The developer, 58, wants to transform the former farm along Interstate 5 at the south end of Castle Rock into a commercial, retail and residential space called the Castle Rock Business Park. Yet he sees the centerpiece of the project as the ice arena plus a sports complex with baseball, soccer and football fields. Before the Mount St. Helens mud flows inundated it, the 118-acre site was a filbert and walnut orchard owned by Sam and Ann Hornstra.
Meakin and his wife live on the site.
The $20 million project would be “100 percent equity financed,” meaning that it won’t have a mortgage, and may operate as a nonprofit, Meakin said.
The project already has an architect, Miles Yanick of Bainbridge Island, and a refrigeration expert based in Victoria, B.C. Yanick designed the $5 million Bremerton Ice Arena, which Meakin opened in 2003 and said he lost to foreclosure a year later. The creditors took it over and it still operates, and Meakin calls it “the nicest community ice arena in America.”
Meakin says he’s not worried that Cowlitz County isn’t a hotbed for ice skating or interest in ice hockey.
“The whole point is its location in Castle Rock. People here are too close to see the forest for the trees. Castle Rock is right between Seattle and Portland on I-5. That is the way Canadian and East Coast people see it.”
“Who ever believed that people would go to George, Washington, to go to a concert?” he said, noting that the project can’t be successful unless it attracts people from outside the area. The rink will be convertible to host concerts and a wide range of entertainment and sporting events, Meakin said.