EVERETT — Zodiac Northwest Aerospace Technologies’ current home just east of downtown Everett feels more like a rabbit warren than the site of a growing aerospace business.
The 20-year-old company started out in a garage in Stanwood. It soon moved to Everett’s North Star building, which went up in 1901, east of the intersection of Hewitt Avenue and Broadway. Since then, it has expanded and taken over the three adjacent buildings. Built in 1935, those structures are comparatively young.
It took Northwest Aerospace Technologies (NAT) President Jim Moore about a week to learn his way around. There are too few bathrooms, too little parking and no room to grow, he said.
“We’ve simply outgrown the buildings we’re in,” Moore said. “There’s really nowhere else for us to go anymore.”
Moore’s comments came at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for NAT’s new home — a modern facility near at Riverside Business Park, just east of Everett’s Delta neighborhood. The company is working with Auburn-based Latitude Development. NAT is one of several aerospace suppliers in Snohomish County spending big sums to add production capacity.
NAT expects to move nearly 200 employees into the new building in March. The new building will have 37,000 square feet of office space and 65,500 square feet of manufacturing space. The company is an engineering-services firm focused on modifying jetliners for airlines, aircraft manufacturers and airplane leasing companies. In 2012, France’s Zodiac Aerospace bought NAT. In January, another French aerospace giant, Safran, agreed to buy Zodiac. That deal, however, is not finalized and could unravel. If the merger does happen, NAT will become part of the world’s third largest aerospace supplier.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there” to fuel NAT’s growth, Moore said after the ceremony.
In addition to its Everett location, it also has about 20 workers in Montana. The company has about 90 engineers between the two sites.
Latitude Development also plans to put a 102,500 square foot manufacturing and office structure next to NAT’s new home at Riverside, most of which is owned by the Port of Everett. Latitude also is trying to find tenants for another 10.5 acres at the industrial park. The developer is working with Bellevue-based Broderick Group, which brokered the NAT deal.
All nine parcels of Riverside’s 85 acres are in various stages of development. FedEx is building a distribution center on one parcel. In all, the developments at the park could support 800 jobs paying more than $35 million in wages each year, according to estimates by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
During its past life as a sawmill, the current Riverside site supported about 2,000 jobs. A mill operated there from 1915 into the 1980s, when Weyerhaeuser closed its Mill B. The Port of Everett bought the land from the timber company in 1998.
By 2005, the port was close to selling the land to Sierra Pacific Industries, which wanted to put a new sawmill there. However, that deal fell through when Sierra Pacific chose another location. The port renewed marketing Riverside in 2012. Bringing the land back to the tax rolls has been a priority for the port, said Terrie Battuello, the Port of Everett’s head of business development.
The FedEx building is going up on part of a roughly 16-acre parcel sold for $5 million in 2016 by the port to KW Projects, a partnership between Kiernan Companies, a developer based in Coronado, Colorado, and West Partners, a San Diego-based investment group.
Waste Management has signed a lease for about 15 acres, and has until the end of June to complete its due diligence work at the site. The company is competing to provide Snohomish County with recycling and trash services.
The Port of Everett plans to spend about $4 million through 2018 on roads, utilities, trails and other work at Riverside.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; email@example.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.