The bluff on E. Marine View Drive overlooks the industrial site where a warehouse burned down in June 2016. The property continues to have oversight problems. (Rikki King / The Herald)

The bluff on E. Marine View Drive overlooks the industrial site where a warehouse burned down in June 2016. The property continues to have oversight problems. (Rikki King / The Herald)

Lawsuit settled over 2016 warehouse fire on riverfront

After the court case, though, problems continue with the Everett site, which is now for sale.

EVERETT — The burned-out building has been demolished.

The litigation was settled out of court, and the land smoothed over.

And yet the headaches aren’t done.

The property at 101 E. Marine View Drive, situated between Everett Engineering and Highway 529, makes up more than 7 acres of Everett’s industrial riverfront. The location had a history of code enforcement violations long before a warehouse caught fire in June 2016.

A year later, what remained of the building was removed. However, the required paperwork for the demolition remains in limbo, according to public records obtained by The Daily Herald. The owners did not notify the city about the work and did not go through the necessary environmental review.

The city continues to seek answers about what is happening with the site, which now is listed for sale.

The 2016 fire caused an estimated $10 million in damage, and the cause could not be determined. The blaze prompted a legal battle between the property owner, the tenant at the time, and the company that installed the fire sprinklers.

The property owner is a holding company, Blunt Family LLC, which is run by a longtime Everett family. The former tenant was a recycling firm called Eco Fuel. The sprinkler supplier was Burns Fire Protection Systems, of Granite Falls.

Fingers were pointed in court about who was responsible for the conditions that led to the fire. The most recent arguments were focused on broken fire-sprinkler heads inside the warehouse, records show.

The civil case lasted nearly a year and a half and was settled out of court earlier this month. None of the attorneys involved provided comment for this story, citing a confidentiality agreement. The settlement, between private parties, is not a public record.

A sign now faces E. Marine View, saying the property is available for sale or lease. The assessed value is $2.4 million.

The real estate firm on the sign, Orion Commercial Partners of Seattle, has the property listed on its website as an “industrial development opportunity.” The online flier is dated February 2018, with an asking price of $3.05 million. It cites the potential for office space or a new warehouse.

What was left of the old warehouse was demolished this past June, documents show. In November, Everett’s planning department issued a letter, seeking a meeting about what has “occurred on your property since the fire.”

“Our code enforcement team observed that demolition and grading activity was taking place,” which prompted the letter, said Meghan Pembroke, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. That kind of work requires an advance review under the State Environmental Policy Act.

After the letter, the property owners “put us in contact with the contractor, and we sent him the applications,” Pembroke said.

The paperwork was supposed to be completed before the demolition. It was submitted in early December, six months later. The contractor said it had cleared away about 98,000 square feet of material.

“It was deemed safer to remove (the) structure than let debris sit in (the) current state,” the city was told.

In late December, the city sent the contractor a notice that the environmental checklist remained incomplete. The city also asked for clarification on the plans for the site, including whether it will stay vacant, and for more details about expected asbestos cleanup.

The contractor has until late March to respond. Depending on the circumstances, the city could extend the timeline for compliance.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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