100 jobs: Cargo company to occupy former Everett mill site

EVERETT – A cargo-handling company, North American Stevedoring, plans to set up shop at Kimberly-Clark’s former mill site on the waterfront.

A subsidiary of the company has signed a long-term lease with Kimberly-Clark to use about a third of the 66-acre site, which has sat empty since the mill shut down in 2012. The deal was expected to be announced Thursday.

The company plans to put about $30 million into the site, including a new warehouse and cold storage. North American Stevedoring expects the site to support about 100 “family-wage” jobs when it is up and running, said Steve Abernathy, the company’s vice president.

With easy access to ships, trains and trucks, “Everett is the ideal location for this type of operation,” Abernathy said. “It’s hard to find property with all those qualities.”

The company considered other ports around Puget Sound before settling on Everett, he said.

It is leasing 20 acres of the mill site and plans to eventually buy the land, he said.

“This announcement is great news for Everett, as we believe Everett Terminals’ operations will be a catalyst for future development on the site and create additional maritime-related jobs,” Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand said. “Kimberly-Clark appreciates the support we’ve received from Mayor (Ray) Stephanson and his team at the city.”

The corporation will continue working with city officials as it seeks new tenants or owners for the remaining 46 acres, he said.

North American Stevedoring-owned subsidiaries also operate in Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Galveston, Texas; Bayside, New Brunswick; and Bellingham. It has created a new subsidiary — Everett Terminals and Cold Storage – to run the Everett operation.

In addition to roughly 100 new jobs, the company also plans to move its corporate headquarters from downtown Seattle to the Everett waterfront.

The Daily Herald reported a year ago that Pacific Stevedoring, a subsidiary of North American Stevedoring, had approached Kimberly-Clark about the land.

The company first approached Kimberly-Clark about two years ago, Abernathy said.

At the time, the corporation was in talks with Seattle-based Saltchuk, which wanted to move its Foss Maritime Co. shipyard to the former mill site.

However, that deal foundered due to disagreements over how to split the cost of cleaning up pollution and preparing the land for construction.

Kimberly-Clark has been working with the state Department of Ecology to clean up decades of contamination.

North American Stevedoring will not be involved in that work. The company is not concerned that the site’s past will affect its plans going forward, Abernathy said.

“We’re very confident in the site,” he said.

The company plans to apply for all necessary permits by the end of the year and start construction by early next year, with operations beginning as soon as mid-2018, he said.

After the Foss deal fell through, the city sued Kimberly-Clark, claiming the company had failed to follow through on a promise to cover the site with topsoil and grass. City officials at the time said they were more interested in seeing the site put back to industrial use.

The lawsuit, which has not been resolved, should not affect North American Stevedoring, Abernathy said.

The Port of Everett also looked into acquiring the land last year. At the time, port officials said they wanted to ensure the land be used for port-related activity.

North American Stevedoring will complement the port’s existing cargo-handling. The port currently has no cold storage, which is in short supply across Pacific Northwest waterfronts, Abernathy said.

“There will be additional cargo that we could draw to the port,” he said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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