It’s been a busy summer for waterfront redevelopment, with Waypoint Park — home to the Acid Ball — opening, and more is coming in the next few months.
On Aug. 14 the Port of Bellingham’s director of environmental programs, Brian Gouran, briefed the Port Commission on what’s happened and what’s on tap. That includes some changes, including a shift in priorities in what is being developed by Harcourt as well as timing on construction.
Gouran touched on a variety of developments around the waterfront district, formerly home to Georgia-Pacific’s pulp and tissue mill operations near the downtown district. Here’s a summary:
▪ Road update: The first phase of putting Granary Avenue near the Granary Building and Waypoint Park is complete, with some additions coming later. The port and city are working on interim parking near the Granary Building and Waypoint Park, particularly now that the park is open to the public.
The second phase of the road project, which includes building Laurel Street from Cornwall Avenue to Granary Avenue, is expected to be completed in early 2019.
▪ Granary Building: Gouran reported that the developer Harcourt is in negotiations with a number of tenants for the refurbished building. The second floor is being marketed as office space, while the first floor is expected to attract restaurants and small businesses for a public-market feel.
▪ Annex: Harcourt has received permit approval to build a 6,000-square-foot glass-and-steel structure next to the Granary Building that could be home to a fine dining restaurant and retail businesses. Gouran said construction of the structure is expected to start in coming weeks.
▪ Residential development: Construction of three residential buildings next to Waypoint Park was expected to start this month, but has hit some delays. Construction is now expected to start next spring.
Gouran said the delay was partly because Harcourt decided to make some design changes and switched architectural firms, hiring Bellingham-based Zervas Group. The new designs are expected to be reviewed by the city next month.
The basic plan for the $32 million residential project would have about 70 residential units, underground parking and around 26,000 square feet of commercial space.
The delay on the residential project will not slow any other infrastructure or cleanup work, said Mike Hogan, port spokesman.
▪ Board Mill hotel/Gateway Office Building: The third project for Harcourt, after refurbishing the Granary Building and the residential construction, was to convert the Board Mill Building into a hotel and conference center.
Gouran indicated during the presentation that Harcourt wants to start the Gateway Office Building before focusing on the hotel. The proposal puts the building on the corner of Granary and Roeder Avenues, near the Granary Building.
When asked about this change, Port Director Rob Fix said there were several reasons for moving up plans for the office building. He noted that market demand for office space has picked up in recent years and Harcourt hasn’t yet purchased the Board Mill Building. The office building would also support the retail development of the Granary Building, he said.
The office project is also something that can be done relatively quickly, Hogan said. No changes are needed to the subarea plan the city is currently considering and it doesn’t need additional infrastructure.
While the hotel project is bumped down on the list, Hogan said it is still something the port, city, Harcourt and Western Washington University want to move forward as soon as possible. Having a hotel in place would allow more activity deeper into the waterfront district, he said. Western Washington has plans to eventually develop some property near the Board Mill Building.
Proposed designs for the office building are expected soon, Gouran said.
▪ Heritage Trail: Still in the concept stage, the port and the city are working on a project to highlight the history of the area, including what Georgia-Pacific meant to the community, Gouran said.
The goal is to create interpretive stations or signs along the trails of the area. This might include signs and old equipment material, according to a concept proposal on the port’s website. More details will be presented at future port commission meetings, Gouran said.