On June 9, I read the op-ed by Mayor Kelli Linville, re-affirming the city's commitment to its downtown.
Respectfully, I wonder. The planned massive subsidies to new development in the port will, if not subject to binding guidelines, tend to suck businesses from the downtown, leaving behind no-sales-tax vacancies. Bellingham will end up without the new net tax revenues which alone make the port development credible. The most recent business migrations to the port are deeply troubling: Giuseppe's restaurant, which used to be on Cornwall, is now out on the Bellweather peninsula. The large engineering firm CH2M Hill similarly vacated downtown to go out into Bellweather-ville. Welcome, new vacancies downtown!
Neither of these business moves can be seen as beneficial to the city, and their new location is not a strategic use of waterfront access. Instead, commercial use of the port property should be exclusively for light industrial marine trades. You cannot haul out a boat, or fix a marine diesel downtown. Why pre-empt the waterfront space with urban amenities that belong downtown? The development planned action soon to be devised by council should ensure that all commercial uses of the port development be exclusively port relevant, i.e., either marine trades or shipping. This will provide living wage jobs that say, being a barista, dishwasher or waitperson, can not provide. In fact, the council should require a living wage in all port development.