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Lynden gets state loan to help with Delft Square redevelopment

Loretta and Dale Stoker, left, and Patricia Armstrong walk in front of the Delft Square building Wednesday, June 5, 2013.
Loretta and Dale Stoker, left, and Patricia Armstrong walk in front of the Delft Square building Wednesday, June 5, 2013. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The city has received a $288,425 state loan for street projects that are part of the effort to redevelop Delft Square, which was nearly destroyed in a fire six years ago.

The money approved Thursday, Sept. 18, by the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board was part of $1.4 million in loans and grants to help create jobs by improving infrastructure, according to a news release from the state agency.

The funding for Lynden came through a municipal revitalization loan that carries a 2 percent interest rate for 20 years.

The century-old Delft Square was occupied by several small businesses when a fire swept through in June 2008.

In 2013, Teri and Matt Treat bought ownership shares of the derelict building, 444 Front St., and joined Jeff and Debra McClure to form ForeFront Ventures to redevelop the property.

They plan to turn the burned-out building into a 35-room hotel, called The Inn at Lynden, as well as retail and restaurant space. ForeFront is expected to invest $6.3 million in the project, according to the news release.

The project will support ForeFront in rebuilding Delft Square.

The city will use the loan to fix and replace sidewalks, curbs and gutters on Front and 5th streets. It also will improve the sewer lines in the alley connecting 4th and 5th streets.

The city will match the state loan with $72,105 for the road repairs.

“We’re thankful that we were able to get the funding because it allows us to leverage money that we earn through our Transportation Benefit District,” said Amy Harksell, the city’s planning director.

The street work will benefit the downtown, according to Harksell.

Voters approved the district, which included a small increase in the city’s sales tax.

City leaders have said that rebuilding the boarded-up Delft Square is a priority because the burned shell is on a prominent corner — causing businesses to leave the downtown and discouraging others to move in because it’s been empty for six years.

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