A major Fairhaven project is scheduled to begin construction in late spring, one that provides an acknowledgment to that district’s past.
If construction of the first phase of Fairhaven Tower starts on time, it could be completed by the summer of 2019 said Ralph Black, owner of Alliance Properties.
The five-story structure is being built on one of Fairhaven’s most prominent corners at 12th Street and Harris Avenue, across the street from the Fairhaven Pharmacy building. It will have 35 apartment units, with the fifth floor home to larger penthouse spaces.
The first floor will have 5,000 square feet of retail space. Nearby will be a parking area, and there are plans to build a second building on top of it in the second phase.
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Earlier this year the former gas station building was removed, so now the developer is going through the final steps before breaking ground.
This has been a long time coming for this project. Part of the property was purchased in 2008 by Alliance Properties with the idea of recreating the Fairhaven Hotel, which was a centerpiece building in Fairhaven when it opened in 1890. It was demolished in 1956, nearly three years after it was heavily damaged by fire. Details about the property’s history and the rest of the district can be found at FairhavenHistory.com.
The project has gone through many reiterations, and while it will no longer be a hotel, it “pays respect” to that building, Black said. Designed by Bellingham’s Zervas Group, Fairhaven Tower has similar exterior features as well as a clock tower that is 93 feet above the ground.
Building apartments is in response to market demand, and Black said they plan on designing the units to a high standard, which includes soundproofing. Another attractive feature is the location, Black said, as residents will be in the heart of the Fairhaven district. He believes the units will be attractive to young professionals and retirees.
Alliance Properties is also building homes in the King Mountain area off James Street. Ralph Black started the company in the early 1990s with his brother, Mike. Ralph Black’s son and daughter, Travis and Beth, also work for the company.
“It (Fairhaven Tower) has become more of a legacy project for the family and we want to do it well,” Ralph Black said.
A brief history of the Fairhaven Hotel
From “The Fairhaven Hotel Journal 1889-1956,” by E. Rosamonde Ellis Van Miert:
▪ Sept. 15, 1890: The Fairhaven Hotel formally opens.
▪ Aug. 15, 1895: Mark Twain is a guest at the hotel.
▪ Dec. 27, 1899: The hotel closes, and it later undergoes repairs and renovation.
▪ Jan. 16, 1922: Hotel is sold to Yoghurt Sanitarium.
▪ May 30, 1923: It’s renamed Hotel Victoria.
▪ July 13, 1928: The tower is removed and the name "Fairhaven" is restored.
▪ March 2, 1937: Whatcom County acquires the building.
▪ Nov. 26, 1937: Major remodeling begins.
▪ July 26, 1953: The building is heavily damaged in a fire.
▪ Oct. 20, 1953: It’s sold for demolition.
▪ Jan. 18, 1956: Demolition of the building is complete.