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After $83 million spent, should the port scrap its waterfront project?

It's spent millions on the Everett waterfront, but before it goes any further, it wants the public's thoughts.

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By Mike Benbow
Herald Writer
Published:
EVERETT — The Port of Everett has spent nearly $83 million redeveloping the waterfront, and it's just getting started.
The job this year will be to figure out how to go forward now that the port's private developer has gone bankrupt.
When Maritime Trust of Chicago had trouble finding lenders to finance the $400 million development, the port stepped in to pay the bills for work it deemed was in the public interest.
That included razing the old buildings; installing infrastructure such as sewer lines, streets and walkways; creating a commercial district for marine businesses; cleaning up toxic soils; and creating a new port administration building that put all the employees in one location.
Maritime was left to come up with the money to produce 660 condominiums and an array of commercial and office buildings. That didn't happen.
The bankruptcy left the port with city and state permits for the work and with ownership of a master plan that would add a public plaza and other amenities to the residential and commercial development.
But do port officials and the community still want that?
The port commission hopes to find the answer starting next month with the first of a series of commission retreats and other public meetings on the issue. Port officials are planning the first retreat for Feb. 22. A time has not been set.
Port planner Graham Anderson said commissioners should consider whether the old plan remains valid or whether it should be scrapped or modified.
Another issue, he said, is whether the port wants to partner with a another private developer to run the show or whether it would “be better served as the master developer.”
Commission chairman Mark Wolken said the tough economy may delay some aspects of the development. But he said the port still needs to come up with a new vision.
“I'd like us to have some guiding principles so that we're not just sitting on idle if we have some opportunities,” he said at a commission meeting Tuesday night. “While we're planning how we're going to handle the ultimate build out of this, we still want to be open for business.”
Commissioner Troy McClelland agreed.
“A real important piece of this is having a master plan with an early sense of how it feels to be flexible,” he said.
Wolken said he wants to engage the public early.
“I want to hear what people are thinking right now,” he said. “We want to be really upfront on where the opportunities are for people to get involved.”
Port Director John Mohr said Wednesday that the new plan will take some time, but he hopes the early meetings “will come up with a good vision so we will be able to market the area.”
He added that the commission needs to decide whether to have a single developer or several directed by the port, and that he expects it will be the latter.
“It's important that we can entertain proposals (early) and be able to react to those,” he said, adding that “we're starting to get some inquiries from people looking for property again.”
Where the money went
The redevelopment of the north marina area has cost the Port of Everett nearly $83 million so far. What have we received for the money? Here's a rundown:
A marina for larger boats: $26.47 million.
A commercial district for marine businesses: $13 million.
Bulkhead repairs and reconfiguration: $9.56 million.
The Waterfront Center building for commercial businesses: $6.7 million.
Environmental cleanup: $5.95 million.
Site preparation and building demolition: $5.5 million
Creation of 13th Street: $4.4 million
Esplanade and other walkways: $4.075 million
Other streets, utilities: $3.3 million
New port administration building, marina office and restaurant space: $2.9 million
Combined sewer outfall: $1.14 million
Story tags » Land Use PlanningPort of Everett

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