EVERETT — The Port of Everett is looking for a developer to build a mid-market hotel as it moves ahead with its ambitious plan to redevelop a large swath of waterfront.
The project, Waterfront Place Central, would turn mostly vacant industrial land into a mix of public parks, boutique shops, and upscale apartments and condos. The port plans to partner with several private developers to spread risk and cost. The port plans to spend about $33 million on roads, utilities and other public services. It expects private investors to put in about $340 million.
Port officials say the project will reinvigorate the waterfront and make it a destination with a lively mix of fun activities, good food and open space. Visitors will need a place to stay, so the plan’s first phase includes a mid-priced hotel with 100 to 120 rooms. The last phase includes a second hotel, envisioned as a smaller boutique operation.
“We are working hard to promote the waterfront as a destination,” said Terrie Battuello, business development director for the tax-supported agency.
Port officials have contacted about 100 hotel developers. The port also asked any interested company to submit qualifications for the work by early April. Based on the response, staff members will come up with a short list of finalists before picking one.
Battuello said the site is ideal for a hotel brand such as Hilton Garden Inn, Aloft or SpringHill Suites by Marriott.
Work likely will not start on the hotel until late 2017 or early 2018, Battuello said.
A market analyst’s study found that the port’s new hotel will not dilute the market, Battuello said. To some degree, “it will compete for business travelers” with existing hotels, but it’s main draw will be destination travelers.
“Every hotel relies on business travelers to keep up their mid-week occupancy rates,” she said.
Occupancy rates were basically flat last year, and many local hotels expect slightly less demand this year, said Amy Spain, head of the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau.
Demand for rooms likely will come back after that, though, she said.
The port’s planned hotel will benefit from being near things to do and places to eat, she said. “There aren’t a lot of hotels in the county that have really walkable locations,” where visitors can get to a restaurant on foot.
Waterfront Place Central’s first phase is the part closest to West Marine Drive, an area port officials have dubbed Fisherman’s Harbor. The plans include 204 residential units, several restaurants and shops, a splash park and other open spaces. It will be alongside the moorage for Everett’s commercial fishing fleet.
Port officials have been in talks for several months with potential housing developers for Fisherman’s Harbor. Work could start by the end of the year, with buildings going up in 2017.
They had hoped to start work as soon as late last year, but “there were a couple things that we felt we didn’t have the best information on,” Battuello said.
So, the port paused to further study the cost of building on a site created by landfill and develop a parking strategy. With that work finished, they have resumed talks with developers, she said.
On the other side of Everett, the port has reached a tentative sales agreement for another big part of its Riverside Business Park. The Port Commission approved selling nearly 16 acres for $4.7 million to KW Projects, a partnership between Kiernan Companies, a developer based in Coronado, Colorado, and West Partners, a San Diego-based investment group. The two companies have worked together since 2010 developing single-tenant properties as long-term investments.
KW Projects told the port that it plans to build distribution center supporting about 100 jobs on the site, Battuello said.
Kiernan Companies declined to comment until after the sale is closed and permits are filed with the city. The sale could close as early as July, according to the port.
Earlier this year, the port agreed to sell nearly 10 acres of the Riverside site to Panattoni Development for $2.85 million.
That leaves about 11 acres of the former mill site up for sale.