North Bend marks 5-year anniversary of powerful explosion as Phoenix Plaza finally rises from the ashes

Where were you on April 25, 2014 when North Bend was rocked awake by a powerful explosion? Has it really been five years?

I was in bed trying to figure out why my phone wouldn’t stop buzzing at 4AM. What could possibly be happening? When I looked at the messages it seemed impossible. An explosion? How bad could it be? Then pictures started coming in. In was unbelievable.

April 25, 2014 is one of those days that will forever live in North Bend – and Snoqualmie Valley – history. The natural gas explosion – ruled accidental by investigators – destroyed more than three buildings. It also altered the lives of those who put themselves into the businesses inside those buildings.

Explosion and ensuing fire, April 25, 2014

There once was a barbershop – Last Cut East. It went up in flames. There once was a restaurant – the dream of a longtime resident and just weeks away from opening – that was gone in an instant. The owner’s effort to rebuild never materialized. A dance studio had to relocate. It took Les Schwab Tires took months to fix their structurally damaged building. Red Oak Residence also took months to fix.

Businesses that once stood along North Bend Way before the April 2014 explosion. Photo: Google Maps screenshot
Aerial image of North Bend Way explosion site, 4/25/14

But the rumble pile was eventually cleared. The tape taken down and a year later for sale sign went up… and then came down. Phoenix Plaza, it was announced, would rise from the ashes and become home to new businesses – and also bring new apartments.

It took years, but construction finally began last summer. The project will also include a new access point to Torguson Park which sits behind the site.

RPMM Group, a family run business, is constructing Phoenix Plaza. Owner Anvesh Kumar said their goal is to build a beautiful building and have it finished in a a year’s time.

The three-story, residential and commercial mixed-use building will have about 5,000 feet dedicated to retail/commercial space on the ground-level and 37 apartments on the second and third stories. The middle of the second story will also have an open space/terrace area for tenant use.

Almost all of the 37 apartments will be 1 and 2-bedroom units, with one 3-bedroom included in the plans. Kumar said they feel the one and two bedroom apartments will meet a need in the community.

April 25, 2014 was a traumatic day in North Bend, but it could’ve been much, much worse had it not happened in the middle of the night. No lives were lost. Firefighters kept the flames from spreading to the nearby gas station.

Damaged buildings were eventually fixed – and one new building may end up symbolizing the resiliency of the small town of North Bend.

It really has been five years.

New Phoenix Plaza building
New Phoenix Plaza building on North Bend Way. PC: Mary Miller

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