The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

Arlington and Marysville trade open space for local jobs

Light-industrial development is transforming the farms and fields where the two cities join.

ARLINGTON — With dump trucks whizzing up and down 51st Avenue Northeast to deliver materials to the future site of a massive Amazon fulfillment center, decades-long Marysville and Arlington residents near the Cascade Industrial Center are coming to grips with the inevitable: Dramatic and long-predicted growth has arrived at their doorstep.

One woman, who moved to Arlington in the 1970s to “enjoy the country,” remembers a 7-Eleven as the only store thereabouts. She recognizes that growth has to happen somewhere, but “it’s sad that it’s so close to home.”

Shortly after Amazon construction got underway at 51st Avenue and 172nd Street Northeast in Arlington, the City Council in adjoining Marysville unanimously passed a resolution for Mayor Jon Nehring to complete a development agreement with NorthPoint Development, a private real estate development firm that plans to erect nine buildings in the industrial center, which straddles the Marysville and Arlington city limits.

That development, off 51st Avenue in Marysville and bound by a railroad line on the southeast side, is expected to bring between 3,980 and 4,887 jobs to the community, said Haylie Miller, director of community development for the city of Marysville.

“The vision for this development was really to bring living wage jobs to Marysville within this light industrial center, basically provide an option for residents in Marysville to be able to work in the community that they live in, and potentially avoid getting on I-5 and driving down south,” Miller said.

According to a recent demographic report, Marysville residents on average spend about 30 minutes commuting to work.

Diane Krieg, director of the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce, said she understands the need for living-wage jobs closer to home. When she worked at Boeing, she committed hours to her commute.

“I got up at 3:45 in the morning and I was there at 4:45 in the morning so I could be back home when my kids got out of school,” Krieg said.

The chamber hopes to help local businesses gear up to support an influx of customers as new developments go up and allow locals to work and play in the same place.

The nine NorthPoint buildings will total 4.1 million square feet and supplement both the industrial and maritime job markets.

“Any time you have any kind of industrial center, there’s ultimately going to be — whether it’s products being manufactured and exported out or supplies needed being imported in — there’s a big logistics component,” Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber said. “We want to work with them to find partners that specialize in our niche, as well, so that we can bring the cargo through the port, so we not only get industrial jobs but also maritime jobs.”

The port entered partnership talks with NorthPoint in spring 2020 and entered a memorandum of understanding in April 2021 to market the development.

The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of the new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

The growing business district along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, looking west toward I-5. At lower left is the construction site of the new Amazon fulfillment center. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

“Ninety-nine percent of the world’s goods come by water,” Lefeber said.“Ports are really critical for freight mobility, and a lot of times you see buildings, but you don’t see the logistics chain that supports it, but almost every single building starts with a port.”

Lefeber said NorthPoint is a top-caliber developer and the new development will help create and sustain a diversified economy in Snohomish County. “Before that, a lot of the industrial land was a developer here, a developer there, but with NorthPoint taking such a large portion it really provides a lot of opportunities to have a strategic approach to how that land is developed.”

According to the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing-Industrial Center Market Study, the area was zoned for light industrial and commercial use in 2008, with targets for industrial development first set in the 1990s.

“This development has been planned for a long time,” Miller said.

Over the years, the city of Marysville pursued community feedback through multiple avenues. In 2018, the city conducted interviews with business owners and leaders, collected opinions through an online survey and held a public workshop that over in which 80 property owners participated.

Some are comfortable sharing their names and stories; others are not, for varying reasons. Grappling with growth affects neighbors differently.

One north Marysville resident of nearly 40 years sat in on one of Mayor Nehring’s early talks and bought into the city’s vision, believing it was good for the area and property values. Jeff and his wife, Debra, didn’t want their last names used in a news story. They said they sold their home about two miles down the road from Emerald Springs RV Park, where they are currently hanging their hats before their next adventure.

The couple said they got “good value” out of their property as a result of the boom in developments nearby.

The developments “were obviously well thought out, but it’s sad that the developers come in and wipe it right off the map,” Debra said.

Following the public outreach in 2018, Nehring assembled the Task Force on Growth Management to gain community input as the city of Marysville solidified development goals.

Five residents-at-large served on the task force alongside city representatives, including City Council members, a planning commissioner and a Master Builders Association representative.

Peter Condyles, a resident on the task force who has lived in Marysville for nearly 18 years, said everyone on the task force connected with their respective social circles and brought community thoughts and ideas back to the meetings for discussion.

“A lot of us within the group are members of (different) organizations … I brought up these conversations, to the people at the (Marysville) Historical Society … And then there was a lady on the task force that was a business owner, she owned a very popular restaurant in town, so she was able to talk to people that way. We had planning commission members who talked to the planning commissioners, we had a pastor, he talked to his group of people, we had one guy, he told me that he just talked to people in the store,” Condyles said.

Each group within the community had a different vision for the city, with the caveat that growth is inevitable.

“I was operating from the position that growth in our area — in Marysville particularly — is a foregone conclusion. It’s going to happen,” said task force member Dan Hazen, a pastor at Allen Creek Community Church. “If we’re providing family wage jobs, and having a vision towards that, that can only help people live better overall. Because for me, the idea of of sustainability is not just ecological — it’s spiritual, it’s relational, it’s familial — so I wanted to have a voice in really making sure that it was.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @BredaIsabella

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