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LEBANON — Mike and Becky Van Atta were looking for a home for their construction business, Vanco Contracting, but things took a twist when they came across the old J.C. Penney building downtown.

Linn-Benton Community College was selling the 1950 structure, and it was more than ample for Vanco’s needs.

But the Van Attas had a big idea.

“There was a lot of talk about how downtown Lebanon needed office space,” Becky Van Atta said.

The couple decided to transform the building into a shared workspace with 13 other offices, a receptionist for all of its tenants, a conference room, an event room, housekeeping and more.

The MBVA Building — the acronym comes from the Van Atta’s shared initials — opened in August and currently has four signed leases.

That doesn’t include Vanco or Mugs Coffee House, which the couple and daughter Jessi Hayward opened at the front of the building.

“The community is fully embracing it. … We have a ton of regulars already,” said Hayward, a 2005 Lebanon High School graduate who also graduated from Oregon State University in 2011.

The coffee shop is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, so college students, book clubs, church groups and more can meet.

“As a writer and former student myself, there’s nowhere to go in town at night if you don’t want a meal or a drink (of alcohol),” Hayward said.

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The focus at Mugs is on specialty coffee from Cascadia Coffee Roasters of Portland, and all of the baked goods are purchased through Natural Sprinkles Co. from Albany or made in house, Hayward added. Teas and chai come from Oregon Coffee and Tea in Corvallis.

The business also serves sandwiches and wraps all day, as well as breakfast burritos.

Hayward said that Mugs is committed to reducing its environmental impact through compostable or recyclable materials.

Mugs also serves its house coffee, which comes with a free refill, in mugs provided by local businesses. It’s a way for the coffee shop to show off those businesses’ logos and remind people to shop local, Hayward said.

Van Atta said that the J.C. Penney building was pretty much gutted during renovations. “It was a yearlong project. We got it done in four months,” she added.

Old-timers still talk about Penney’s, and sometimes point out where they bought shoes or other tidbits of information about the store, Van Atta said.

Residents can also rent out the conference room and the event room at the MBVA Building for an hourly fee.

Mike Van Atta was born and raised in Lebanon but graduated from Corvallis High School in 1984. He moved away from the mid-valley for 13 years because of work, but he wanted to return to his hometown with his own business and make a difference, his wife said.

The MBVA Building is at 550 S. Main St. in Lebanon. For more information, call 541-497-7250, or go to https://www.mbvabuilding.com/ or the building’s Facebook page.

For more information on Mugs Coffee House, which is at the same address, call 541-497-7245 or go to https://mugslebanon.com/ or the business’ Facebook page.

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Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.

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