Plans submitted for destination spa at Semiahmoo

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 4, 2014 

BLAINE - A new destination spa may be the first step in significant change at Semiahmoo Spit.

Earlier this week an application was submitted to Blaine to alter city plans to allow up to a 70,000-square-foot spa and wellness facility, along with a residential or hotel component that would have up to 125 units. The plans were submitted by BlueRidge Semiahmoo Point LLC, a Southern California real estate investment firm.

Derek Jones, CEO of BlueRidge, said adding the facility would come at the reduction of homes planned for the area. Currently the area is zoned for around 288 homes; Jones said the proposed plan would reduce that to around 175.

The proposed spa would go on the south side of the spit, near the marina. Jones said the spa and other components are intended to complement, rather than compete against, the nearby Semiahmoo Resort. He expects the proposed spa to have higher-wage skill positions, such as dieticians and registered nurses, that he said would be a boost to the local economy.

If the proposal gets approved by the city and the plans move forward, Jones said they would aim to have the first phase, which includes the spa, completed by early 2017.

He stressed that the proposal is in the very early stages. In the coming months he and others plan on talking with community groups to get their input before coming up with more specific plans.

The community also will get a chance to weigh in, said Michael Jones, Blaine's community development director. Michael Jones said the City Council will first consider whether to have staff look into proposed changes, possibly at its July 28 meeting. If that happens, city staff would then take it to the planning commission, which would have a public hearing on the topic.

If the proposal makes it through that part of the process, the council would vote for final approval around the end of 2014 or early 2015, Michael Jones said.

The spa is part of a bigger plan for that area that includes the housing (currently named Seagrass Homes) and 32,000 square feet of commercial/retail. Again, it's early in the process, but when asked about the completion of the overall development, Derek Jones estimated it would take about six years.

The proposed commercial/retail space would be near the marina. Derek Jones envisions it as development that would serve people who live in the area as well as visitors. He noted that residents currently have to drive a fair distance to get some of the basic needs, including groceries.

Derek Jones said he became interested in the area after the sale of Semiahmoo Resort, which reopened in August 2013. After visiting Blaine, he said he fell in love with the area and was impressed by the new ownership at the hotel.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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