It is anticipated that on Jan. 9, the Everett City Council will take final public comments and make a decision on the Central Waterfront Redevelopment Plan (Kimberly-Clark property). This decision will not determine who the buyer will be, but rather what future uses will be allowed on the property. This is a unique piece of property, with both water and rail access. It is one of the very few privately owned waterfront properties on the West Coast that could be available for marine-dependent industrial use and development.
I believe that if the decision is made to rezone the property to eliminate water-dependent use, the repercussions to this community could be great. This property has the potential to provide expanded future support to the operations of the city’s two largest employers (Boeing and Naval Station Everett). To eliminate those options could jeopardize the future of thousands of existing jobs, which would have a disastrous economic impact upon our community.
The Planning Commission has proposed a Preferred Alternative that maintains the current M-2 zoning, allowing both Water Dependent Industrial and Non-Water Dependent Industrial use, while encouraging the possibility for public access if feasible. While the city’s consultant indicated that light industrial use may present an opportunity for the greatest number of jobs on site, the report also indicates low market interest in this property for that use.
On the other hand, the economic report indicates a strong outlook for water-dependent use, with moderate to strong market interest. I don’t think it would be in Everett’s best interest to see this property follow the path of the former Georgia Pacific site in Whatcom County, remaining dormant, waiting for market demand to improve under the designated uses that resulted when Bellingham changed the zoning of that property.
I believe the Preferred Alternative proposed by the Planning Commission should provide the foundation for the final decision that the City Council makes in regard to the Central Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. This will provide the best opportunity for Kimberly-Clark to find a suitable buyer for the property, and ultimately lead to future economic development for our region.