Marina renaissance starting to take shape

By Mike Benbow

Herald Writer

A plan to turn the Port of Everett’s aging north marina into a place for people is quickly taking shape.

Maritime Trust Co. of Chicago, the firm hired by the port to spearhead a redevelopment largely through private funds, unveiled specific plans for the approximately 100-acre area that call for:

  • Six separate districts — Esplanade, West End, Captain’s Walk, Wharf’s Edge, Craftsmen and Gateway — that will have distinct characters and services.

  • A public walkway encircling the perimeter as well as a bikeway along 13th Street.

  • Plazas for concerts, plays and other public events.

  • An expanded marina, with more boat slips and dry land storage.

  • New retail shops and restaurants.

  • Areas for homes and office buildings.

    The plans, unveiled at a series of meetings this week, stem from talks with dozens of groups that wanted a say in the redevelopment, from boat owners to nearby residents.

    "It really has given us a good sense of how to put the main pieces of the puzzle together," Dennis Derrickson of Robert Evans &Associates of Everett, principal planner for the project, said Wednesday at an Everett Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon to discuss the project.

    Derrickson said two key elements of the plan are providing widespread public access and improving facilities and services for those who use the marina.

    In addition to the perimeter walkway, he said, the public will also see two acres of plazas and parks. Boat owners will see more and bigger slips, additional land storage and more marine services, he added.

    Maritime CEO Burt Mears said he was excited about the project, which will likely take another two years to secure financing and permits. And he said he’s not daunted by the current economic climate.

    "I wouldn’t want to be financing this project today," he said. "But I’m confident that 18 months from now, this is a project that we can finance. We’re not going to slow down our pace one iota because we think in two years, this great country will have shrugged off its problems."

    There’s a lot to be done within those next two years.

    The company plans a final public meeting later this year to refine its plans, which must win approval from the Port of Everett commission. Then there are state and local environmental permits, relocation of some existing businesses and securing financing for the new facilities.

    Mears said he’s excited because finding 100 acres of developable waterfront on the West Coast with an existing marina is almost unheard of. "This will be very valuable property," he said.

    Seattle architect Michael Weinstein said the plans will "not be just another study, but will deal with the realities of economics and get something off the ground."

    He told the chamber members that information from some 80 groups had been incorporated into the plan.

    He echoed Derrickson’s comments that the focus will be on "making it accessible to the public and providing for those people who own boats and those who live on boats in the marina."

    Weinstein explained the essentials of the six districts, which include:

  • Esplanade. A public path at the water’s edge for walkers and bicyclists.

  • Marine Craftsmen. Comprehensive marine services and products.

  • West End. Restaurants, outdoor seating and an event plaza.

  • Captain’s Walk. A mix of shops and second-story offices along a cobblestone walkway.

  • Wharf’s Edge. A residential neighborhood with a variety of housing, gardens and courtyards linked by walkways.

  • Gateway. Offices and shops fronting Marine View Drive.

    "It’s a necessity to have a 24-hour population," he said, explaining the reason for the residential district. "Having this deserted at 5 p.m. would be a killer blow to the retail businesses."

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