EVERETT — It’s long been imagined as a place to bring businesses and jobs to Everett.
And it’s long languished.
Twenty years ago, the Port of Everett purchased 95 acres along the Snohomish River in northeast Everett at the site of a former Weyerhaeuser mill.
The Port envisioned 1 million square feet of warehouses and manufacturing and office space, a hub that would employ as many as 750 people.
At the time, in 2000, the project was described as coming on line within a year, development would be imminent.
That didn’t happen.
Two decades later, the Riverside Business Park is finally taking shape. Two major projects — a 102,500-square-foot building for an aerospace supplier and a distribution center for Federal Express — are being built and should open later this year.
Construction could start on two other industrial buildings this year. And the Port is in negotiations to sell the last of its two available parcels.
One of the chief visionaries is Terrie Battuello, who was hired by the Port in 2013 to deliver development to the Riverside Business Park, 505 E. Marine View Drive, and a residential and retail development called Waterfront Place along Port Gardner.
“The time is right in Everett,” said Battuello, the Port’s chief of business development. “There’s such a renaissance going on and there’s a very small amount of industrial property in Everett. That’s what is creating a stronger demand and getting people to take chances.”
The developments could add 700 well-paying jobs into the community, Battuello said. That’s not too far off the estimates of 20 years ago.
Workers will begin moving into one of those new buildings this month, said Dave Kessler, the principal for Auburn’s Latitude Development. His firm is constructing the building for aerospace supplier Northwest Aerospace Technologies, an engineering-services firm focused on modifying jetliners for airlines, aircraft manufacturers and airplane leasing companies. The company is expected to bring 200 employees to the park.
Latitude Development owns another parcel in the business park and would like to begin construction in June on a similar-sized second building, Kessler said.
KW Projects is building the Federal Express cross-docking center to allow semi-trailer trucks to back in and allow packages to be sorted easily. The business park has easy access to I-5 via Highway 529.
The port sold 10 acres for nearly $3.7 million to Panattoni Development Co. in November. The company said at the time that it wants to start construction on its project this spring and finish by later this year.
Those will join Motor Trucks, which moved its International truck dealership into a $7.5 million building at the business park in 2010.
The port hopes that selling two other parcels will to get the properties back into the hands of businesses that will employ workers and pay taxes.
“The biggest thrill in my job is going to work and seeing other workers headed to their jobs,” Battuello said. “As an economic developer, my job is to create opportunities for the residents of our community. When I see people going to work, that’s what makes it worth it for me.”
The county owns another parcel in the business park and leases it to Republic Services to transfer waste onto railroad cars to ship away to landfills. The owner of landscaping materials business Pacific Topsoils owns one other piece of the land, which is for sale.
The business park was the home of a Weyerhaeuser Mill B, which operated from 1915 into the 1980s. The Port of Everett purchased the property in 1998.
The site has undergone extensive environmental cleanup, and the port spent most of 2012 bringing in fill soil to raise the land above the 100-year flood plain. The port reinforced a bridge over the railroad tracks to the site and added a road system, utilities and a trail along the river.
(The City of Everett plans a trail system along the river and Port Gardner around the city’s north peninsula; the trails at Riverside Business Park will connect to that system.)
Only about 45 acres of the entire site is usable for development, Battuello said.
Battuello, who spent seven years working on economic development in Bothell, said it takes time for a project like the Riverside Business Park to align with the “right place, right time, right people.”
“We’re really excited to see it happening,” Battuello said. “Part of the attraction of working at the port is envisioning projects like this. We have a lot of patience in making them happen. It’s really exciting when the community starts to see the fruits of our labor. This is one of those times.”
Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; firstname.lastname@example.org; @HBJnews.