Aerospace development could bring jobs to Arlington

  • By Debra Smith Herald Writer
  • Friday, January 20, 2012 4:19pm

ARLINGTON — In the not-too-distant future, Arlington might be known for helping build airplanes, not boats.

Seattle real estate developers have purchased the former Meridian Yacht campus, and they plan to turn it into a manufacturing park that caters to Boeing suppliers.

The purchase has the potential to bring tax dollars and hundreds of jobs to the city.

One of north Snohomish County’s largest employers, Meridian Yachts, shut down in 2008 because of a dramatic decline in boat sales nationwide following the start of the recession. More than 1,200 people lost their jobs.

Since then the land and its buildings have sat vacant, except for a few employees still doing work for the yacht company.

“That was a huge blow to the community,” said Paul Ellis, an assistant economic developer for the city of Arlington. “We want to get businesses in and filled with workers.”

Arlington is already becoming known as a small hotbed of aerospace suppliers with 25 such companies employing a total of 4,500 people in an industrial area near the airport, Ellis said.

Arlington Advanced Manufacturing Park LLC purchased the nearly 33-acre site for $8 million just before Christmas, according to county records. The county valued the land last year at $11 million.

The site is at 17825 59th Ave. NE, just across the street from the Arlington Airport.

The Seattle real estate developers plan to market the land and its buildings to aerospace and emerging technology manufacturers, said Lane Bockman, a real estate broker based in Bellevue with the worldwide firm CBRE Group Inc.

Bockman expects subcontractors anticipating more work from Boeing will be looking for space. Rather than develop the land for one company, the investors plan to market it to multiple businesses, leasing to some and selling to others.

They’re not just limiting themselves to manufacturing. Bockman said they’ve had interest from companies that perform engineering work, too.

The land still has 14 buildings once used by Meridian Yachts as well as 8 acres that formerly served as a parking lot.

Most of the buildings are already set up for manufacturing and include features such as overhead cranes and extensive electrical distribution, he said.

“The city is progressive in its understanding of the need to get people back to work,” Bockman said. “More so than other places on the western side of the mountains.”

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com.