Just What We Need - A Bank in Fairhaven

Peoples Bank proposes to tear down the once popular Zane Burger restaurant to build a branch office.

Peoples Bank proposes to tear down the once popular Zane Burger restaurant to build a branch office.

• Topics: Bellingham,

Unbeknownst to most of our citizens, Peoples Bank purchased the former “Zane Burger” property at 1315 12th St. in Fairhaven last May for a cool $1.95 million and has plans to raze the iconic hamburger spot to replace it with a … insert drum roll… bank! Highest and best use does not appear to apply when banking is concerned but I must confess that the very thought of a bank on this spot stirs my soul. The stirring may also just be indigestion in contemplation of the future.

Win's Drive-in Restaurant in the pre-Zane day

Plans for the site [see ATTACHED FILES below] were briefed at a neighborhood Zoom meeting on November 16th. Setting the stage for the meeting was a representative from the Planning Department who declared that the bank was a permitted use of that parcel. Permitted use is, by and large, planners'  lingo for, “You can complain all you want but it's not going to result in stopping the project, no matter what.”  

After this gloubi-boulga of a presentation, we arrived at the time for public comment, when one person suggested that the building be higher than the planned two stories and provide, just maybe, some housing units. Doh! I chimed in and described the plans and the architecture briefed during the meeting as utterly boring.  (The architect in attendance remained mute.) Several other Zoom attendees echoed my thoughts, some of which appear below.

Like Win's Drive-In before it, Zane Burger was very popular, catering to middle school students, construction workers, nearby office workers, motor cycle groups, and families, especially in the evenings and weekends. Zane Burger brought with it the red Ford Falcon that was placed on a pole above the building. It was quirky but it worked. As with other interesting spots of old in Fairhaven, quirky Zane's will give way to boring: a two story building that will go dark in the evenings and on weekends. The place will become the equivalent of a satellite radio dead spot with architecture to match some of the other boring crap built in Fairhaven recently, often replacing other quirky spots. 

A Bellingham selfie- We do it to ourselves.

No doubt the bank will secure Fairhaven's popularity as a tourist stop. Sure thing. Peoples Bank, THE go-to place to visit. Ski to Sea participants and its fans will just love hanging around the bank whose front facade will be next to the sidewalk with just enough room for lingering on the concrete. (See the three proposed plans below at ATTACHED FILES) But with the bank closed evenings and weekends, maybe the lot at the rear of the building will offer a bit of free parking, a refuge from the inscrutable parking kiosks which are also so popular in Fairhaven.  

We can't say we are not consistent in doing ugly, soulless, and joyless, once again bringing yet another self-inflicted wound to the city of Bellingham.  

Attached Files

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

David A. Swanson

Dec 05, 2023

Maybe the bank will continue Zane’s tradition of Tuesday specials

Maybe there will be an “alien trespass” memorial in front of the bank, a statue of Jim Swift’s version of the Bellingham Gort


Dick Conoboy

Dec 05, 2023

David is referring to Jim Swift, who bought Win’s hamburger stand and turned it into Zane’s.  Jim was a movie buff who was one of the writers for the film Alien Trespass (watch the movie here), a horror movie of the B class.  Jim also played the role of a “reporter” in the film.  The two, now defunct Rocket Donut sites, established by Swift in Bellingham, contained much movie memorabilia and TV screens that presented Alien Tresspass and other vintage sci-fi films on continuous loops.  Jim was also owner of Fat Pie Pizza.  At the downtown Rocket Donut shop there was a full size replica of Gort, the robot, featured in one of the most classic sci-fi movies The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Jim also used his imagination to create Zane’s.  And now we get a BORING bank.  Sheesh.



Kerry Johnson

Dec 06, 2023

After all, we do need to keep our excitement subdued, eh?

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