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Work begins on big residential project that is on a centerpiece corner of Fairhaven

New apartment tower in Fairhaven will recall a famous building

Developers are breaking ground for Fairhaven Tower, a five-story building that will contain retail and apartment space at 12th Street and Harris Avenue -- the same site as the historic Fairhaven Hotel, which once hosted an appearance by Mark Twain.
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Developers are breaking ground for Fairhaven Tower, a five-story building that will contain retail and apartment space at 12th Street and Harris Avenue -- the same site as the historic Fairhaven Hotel, which once hosted an appearance by Mark Twain.

Work has begun on a big residential project that will occupy a key corner of Fairhaven.

Crews from Bellingham’s Ram Construction recently began digging out the area on the corner of 12th Street and Harris Avenue, formerly home to a gas station. It’s the start of the Fairhaven Tower project, a five-story building with 35 apartments and some retail space on the ground floor.

The start of construction has come after some delays. It was scheduled to begin last spring, but there were some unforeseen issues with permitting timelines, said Travis Black of Alliance Properties in an email. Alliance Properties is the developer of Fairhaven Tower.

Now that the groundwork has started, the intention is to continue directly into constructing the building. It should take about 18 months to complete, Black said.

This project has been a long time coming for Alliance Properties, which was founded by Travis Black’s father, Ralph. Part of the property was purchased in 2008 with the idea of recreating the Fairhaven Hotel. That hotel was the centerpiece of Fairhaven when it opened in 1890. It was demolished in 1956, nearly three years after it was heavily damaged by fire.

Market demand has led to changes to this current project, and while it will no longer be a hotel, the Black family planned the current design to pay respect to the previous structure. Designed by Bellingham’s Zervas Group, Fairhaven Tower will have similar exterior features as well as a clock tower that is 93 feet above the ground.

“It (Fairhaven Tower) has become more of a legacy project for the family and we want to do it well,” Ralph Black said in a February 2018 interview.

12th & Harris (Final)_001.jpg
A rendering of what Fairhaven Tower will look like when completed on the corner of 12th Street and Harris Avenue. It is expected to have 35 apartment units, retail space and parking. Alliance Properties Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.


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