EVERETT — When Washington state laws governing tasting rooms recently loosened, Port of Everett officials saw an opportunity to turn saltwater into wine.
The port hopes to develop a waterfront “wine walk,” and anchor it with at least four new tasting rooms offering beer, wine and spirits.
Two would be located at Waterfront Place Central, home to Hotel Indigo and Waterfront Place Apartments; the others would occupy Marina Village, which harbors Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant, the Inn at Port Gardner and Anthony’s HomePort restaurant, said Lisa Lefeber, Port CEO.
A wine walk would help link the two districts, Lefeber said.
“I’ve always wanted to connect them and provide continuity, so that we can make sure the South Marina businesses are just as successful as the businesses at Waterfront Place Central,” Lefeber said
New state regulations have boosted the port’s vision.
Until a change in the law last year, distilleries could only operate an onsite tasting room. New rules allow them to operate up to two, off-site tasting rooms, privileges that wineries and breweries already enjoy.
Port of Everett officials hope to capitalize on the change.
A port campaign to recruit potential tenants has yielded plenty of leads so far, Lefeber said.
“I’ve gotten bombarded from wine, beer and spirit merchants that are interested,” Lefeber said.
The port intends to work closely with tenants and developers to design four, single-story retail buildings at Waterfront Place and Marina Village that can house at least three tenants, including the tasting rooms.
Among the wish list of features: outdoor patios and rooftop decks that exude a “cute, fun vibe with Instagrammable views of the marina and Port Gardner Bay,” Lefeber said.
Construction of the four retail sites could begin next year.
Tasting rooms would be located close to the new boardwalk that hugs the shoreline from the boat marina to the terminus at Naval Station Everett.
The wooden promenade offers ample space for pedestrians and event tents. The boardwalk got a tryout last month when dozens of merchant tents popped up for the “Fresh Paint” event. Sponsored by the Schack Art Center in Everett, the art exhibit drew hundreds of visitors.
Lefeber hopes a wine walk could lure more groups to hold festivals and events at the port.
Wine country on the waterfront — what’s not to like?
Visitors can take in the sights, and along the way, enjoy a glass of wine, beer, spirits along with a snack or meal, she said.
Is Woodinville a kind of model for what might be?
In the 1970s, Chateau Ste. Michelle built its French-style winery. Columbia Winery followed in 1988. Today, dozens of Woodinville’s tasting rooms are year-round attractions that draw hundreds of thousands of tourists and pull in millions of dollars. In 2016, the area’s tasting rooms, cafes and hotels attracted nearly 800,000 people and generated $174 million in taxable sales, according to a 2017 Woodinville Tourism Study.
Last year the Port of Everett drew 325,000 visitors.
The waterfront is now getting second looks from retailers and developers for several reasons, Lefeber said.
The City of Everett’s Grand Avenue Park Bridge, which opened last year, provides a long-awaited pedestrian link from downtown Everett to the marina.
The first of two waterfront residences debuted this spring at Waterfront Place Central, near West Marine View Drive, between 13th and 10th streets.
Waterfront Place Apartments, with 135 units, opened in May. The second Waterfront Place Apartment building, which will have 131 units, is set to open next year.
Fully leased, the two residences could house some 400 people, developers have said.
When fully built-out, the Waterfront Place district is expected to encompass 65 acres of retail, restaurant and office space, with trails and walkways.
Other port locations — including a vacant lot near Naval Station Everett — are also percolating. Woods Coffee, a Lynden-based coffeehouse chain, recently leased space in a planned 5,000 square-foot building on the corner West Marine View Drive and 18th Street. Construction is expected to begin early next year and be completed in the fall.
More foot traffic, more visitors and more residents create density levels that retailers — and vintners — depend on to keep the cash registers full.
“We are creating a destination waterfront here at the Port of Everett where you can do five things year-round, you can eat, drink, sleep, work and recreate,” Lefeber said. “This project, the wine walk, is right in the center of it.”
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods