Market Report: North part of Bellingham attracting plenty of new economic activity


Pioneer Post Frame carpenters Bryan Bos and Ron Schroeder work on the new FastCap building on Pacific Highway in Ferndale Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Pioneer is using innovative techniques on the building, while FastCap modeled its new manufacturing plant on Lean concepts.


When it comes to new economic activity, the north section of Bellingham seems to be the place this summer.

With two hotels under construction and one expected to get started next month, the area near Northwest Avenue and West Bakerview Road has been a hub of activity. The area is also seeing significant road construction and nearby the expansion of the Bellingham International Airport continues.

Development isn't expected to slow down much after the summer. A Holiday Inn hotel near the airport and a Costco store on West Bakerview Road are expected to begin next year.

The latest hotel announcement came last month when building plans were submitted to the city for a 106-room, four-story, extended-stay facility called Home2 Suites By Hilton. That project will be at 805 Home Lane, near Northwest Avenue.

It will be interesting to see whether these projects will bring other businesses into Bellingham. Because of the traffic draw, hotels and Costco tend to be attractive draws for other companies, particularly in retail.

Significant local business events that took place in June and early July:

• The $19.5 million sale of Semiahmoo Resort was announced on June 21. The new owner is Resort Semiahmoo LLC, with Wright Hotels Inc. of Seattle as managing member. Another member is Blue Ridge Cascadia, a real estate investment group based in Southern California. Coastal Hotel Group of Seattle will serve as resort manager and will try to get the resort re-opened in August.

• Earlier this year Ferndale's Pioneer Post Frame started construction on a 47,000-square-foot building on Pacific Highway near Wilson's Furniture and Interstate 5. It's expected to be completed around October and will be the home of FastCap, a growing manufacturing company currently in Bellingham. FastCap makes a variety of products, including construction tools.

• The Canadian dollar weakened to reach its lowest point in almost two years in June. Now at around 95 cents compared to the U.S. dollar, several local experts believe it shouldn't impact Canadian cross border traffic unless it weakens to under 90 cents.

Whatcom County quarterly retail sales

Q4 2012: $891.5 million

Q3 2012: $860.9 million

Q4 2011: $828.1 million

Quarterly change: up 3.6 percent

Year-over-year change: up 7.7 percent

Six-year quarterly high: $891.5 million, fourth quarter, 2012

Six -year quarterly low: $624.4 million, first quarter 2009

Whatcom County bankruptcies

June 2013: 39

May 2013: 38

June 2012: 48

Monthly change: up 2.6 percent

Year-over-year change: down 18.8 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 83, February 2010

Seven-year monthly low: 11, February 2006

Whatcom County new auto sales

May 2013: 411

April 2013: 273

May 2012: 330

Monthly change: up 50.5 percent

Year-over-year change: up 24.5 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 553, May 2006

Seven-year monthly low: 140, December 2008

Whatcom County residential sales

June 2013: 275

May 2013: 279

June 2012: 271

Monthly change: down 1.4 percent

Year-over-year change: up 1.5 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 398, August 2007

Seven-year monthly low: 104, February 2009

Unincorporated Whatcom County building permit values

May 2013: $10.1 million

April 2013: $11.9 million

May 2012: $5.7 million

Monthly change: down 15.1 percent

Year-over-year change: up 77.2 percent

Six-year monthly high: $65.3 million, July 2011

Six-year monthly low: $2.6 million, January 2012

Whatcom County foreclosures

June 2013: 25

May 2013: 45

June 2012: 35

Monthly change: down 44.4 percent

Year-over-year change: down 28.6 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 153, April 2009

Seven-year monthly low: 17, September 2007

Median price of homes sold in Whatcom County

June 2013: $248,000

May 2013: $250,000

June 2012: $250,000

Monthly change: down 1 percent

Year-over-year change: down 1 percent

Seven-year monthly high: $280,450, May 2007

Seven-year monthly low: $208,000, November 2011

Whatcom homes newly listed for sale

June 2013: 487

May 2013: 552

June 2012: 392

Monthly change: down 11.8 percent

Year-over-year change: up 24.2 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 707, May 2007

Seven-year monthly low: 131, December 2011

Bellingham airport traffic

June 2013: 52,884

May 2013: 54,712

June 2012: 49,573

Monthly change: down 3.3 percent

Year-over-year change: up 6.7 percent.

Seven-year monthly high: 61,402, March 2013

Seven-year monthly low: 12,597, September 2010

Canadian dollar

End of June 2013: 95 cents

End of May 2013: 96 cents

End of June 2012: 98 cents

Seven-year high: $1.07, November 2007

Seven-year low: 77 cents, March 2009

Southbound Canadian border crossings into Whatcom County

March 2013: 1,379,940

February 2013: 1,121,940

January 2013: 1,109,276

March 2012: 1,271,620

Monthly change: up 23 percent

Year-over-year change: up 5 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 1,676,071 August 2012

Seven-year monthly low: 645,792 October 2006

Bellingham building permit values

June 2013: $16.4 million

May 2013: $9.6 million

June 2012: $8.4 million

Monthly change: up 70.8 percent

Year-over-year change: up 95.2 percent

Seven-year monthly high: $47.3 million, December 2009

Seven-year monthly low: $1.1 million, November 2008

Ferndale building permit values

June 2013: $3.7 million

May 2013: $1.1 million

June 2012: $2.9 million

Monthly change: up 236 percent

Year-over-year change: up 27.6 percent

Six-year monthly high: $12.9 million, July 2007

Six-year monthly low: $0.2 million, January 2009

Whatcom County construction jobs

May 2013: 6,300

April 2013 (revised): 6,000

May 2012: 5,800

Monthly change: up 5 percent

Year-over-year change: up 8.6 percent

Seven-year monthly high: 8,600, September 2006

Seven-year monthly low: 4,900, January 2013

Whatcom County unemployment

Whatcom May 2013: 7.2 percent

Whatcom April 2013 (revised): 6.7 percent

Whatcom May 2012 (revised): 7.7 percent

State May 2013 (seasonably adjusted): 6.8 percent

Nation May 2013 (seasonably adjusted): 7.6 percent.

Seven-year monthly high: 10.4 percent, February 2010

Seven-year monthly low: 3.7 percent, October 2007

Sources: Washington State Department of Revenue; U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington; Cross-Sell; Washington State Department of Licensing; Northwest Multiple Listing Service; Whatcom County Planning and Development Services; Bank of Canada; Port of Bellingham; RealtyTrac; Center For Economics and Business Research, Western Washington University; City of Bellingham; Washington State Employment Security Department.

Market Report runs each month.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or Read his Business blog at or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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