The digester building, built in the early 1930s, stands alone as destruction of the Kimberly-Clark plant continues Thursday evening. In the foreground sits a 32-foot acid accumulator. The building is scheduled to be brought down on Saturday.

The digester building, built in the early 1930s, stands alone as destruction of the Kimberly-Clark plant continues Thursday evening. In the foreground sits a 32-foot acid accumulator. The building is scheduled to be brought down on Saturday.

Port of Everett wants paper mill property ‘by any means necessary’

EVERETT — After years of watching the former Kimberly-Clark Corp. mill site sit dormant, the Port of Everett is moving to snatch up the 66-acre waterfront property. Port officials plan to ask port commissioners Tuesday to sign off on acquiring the land “by any means necessary,” Port CEO Les Reardanz said.

“Any means necessary” includes condemning the property and taking control through a method called eminent domain.

Reardanz said he wants to avoid such a heavy-handed approach.

“Hopefully, we will reach a purchase and sales agreement with Kimberly-Clark,” Reardanz said.

But “we are very serious about acquiring the property for port purposes,” he said.

The former mill site is in the middle of the port’s marine terminals. Last year, 195 cargo ships moved 422,488 tons of goods through Everett’s waterfront. That was the highest number of ships since 2000, the most recent year for which data are immediately available.

Several times during the year, the port had to turn down or delay cargo because there was nowhere to park more freight, Port spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber said.

“We need more land” to handle cargo moving between ships, trucks and trains, Reardanz said.

That lack of space is the port’s “strategic weakness,” he said. “The risk of not acquiring it is greater than the risk of acquiring it.”

Kimberly-Clark has been trying to sell the land since it shut down its mill there in 2012. A tentative agreement with maritime conglomerate Saltchuk was reached in late 2013. Saltchuk wanted to buy the land to build a shipyard for its Seattle-based subsidiary, Foss Maritime Co., which makes tugs and barges.

The deal fell through in 2014 as the two sides could not agree on how to split the cost of cleaning up pollution on the decades-old industrial site.

“Foss is still interested” in the former mill site, but it is also looking at other Pacific Coast locations, Saltchuk spokeswoman Emily Reiter said.

Pacific Stevedoring, a shipping logistics company, and one other serious prospective buyer have approached Kimberly-Clark since the Foss deal fell through, according to sources familiar with the deals.

Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand declined to comment on discussions with prospective buyers.

Companies continue to express interest in the land, and the Dallas-based company is “willing to work with any potential buyers,” he said. “We’re looking for the right buyer at the right time.”

Since closing the mill and demolishing several buildings on site, Kimberly-Clark has been working with the Department of Ecology to clean up pollution.

Ongoing litigation from the city of Everett against Kimberly-Clark has not “hindered our ability to market the property,” Brand said.

Everett is suing Kimberly-Clark over the company’s cleanup obligations on the property. The city filed its lawsuit in 2014 after the Saltchuk deal collapsed.

It is too soon to say how the port’s move to acquire the land could affect the lawsuit, or who pays to finish cleaning up the site, Everett spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson plans to attend Tuesday’s Port Commission meeting, she said.

Site cleanup will be part of the port’s negotiations with Kimberly-Clark, Reardanz said.

Port officials already have done some due diligence for acquiring the site. They do not expect to turn up any deal-breaking information during negotiations, but Reardanz said he could not rule it out.

The tax-supported port is looking at outside financing and federal dollars to help pay for the land. It also has reserves and flexibility in its capital budget, he said.

Buying the former mill site will not create a financial risk for the port or significantly delay its top two projects: a major residential and retail development called Waterfront Place; and expanding and strengthening its marine terminals to handle bigger cargo ships, Reardanz said.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Clyde Shavers, left, and Greg Gilday.
Shavers wins by narrow margin as Dems flip seat in 10th District

Democrat Clyde Shavers won by 211 votes against incumbent state Rep. Greg Gilday. It’s close enough for a recount.

Edmonds man hospitalized after shooting in Arlington

The man, 30, was found Monday night in the 500 block of N. Macleod Avenue after reports of an assault.

A snow plow clears snow off of 92nd Avenue West on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Another dusting, with more snow on the way in Snohomish County?

Light snow showers hit the area Friday morning. Another system was coming in the evening. And yet another next week.

Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett, speaks to a crowd while in front of a sign celebrating the opening of the new Norton Terminal on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Port of Everett christens new Norton cargo terminal

The $40 million terminal took two years to complete and doubles the port’s storage capacity.

Permit tech Sheyenne Morton and residential plan reviewer Ryan Hammer help a general contractor with some permit work at the Everett Public Works permit office Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Budget dips, but Everett city union workers in line for 7.5% pay bump

The city’s general government fund could drop $1 million. City leaders say the current path is not sustainable.

Snow lingered outside the office building of Receivables Performance Management on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood data breach exposed sensitive info for 3.7 million across US

Lawsuits allege lax security at a debt collection agency led to the attack. It wasn’t announced for over a year.

The Washington State Patrol was investigating a fatal crash involving multiple vehicles Thursday on Highway 530 near Oso. (Washington State Patrol)
1 killed, 1 injured in crash east of Arlington

There was no detour for several hours Thursday afternoon as detectives investigated the four-vehicle collision.

Teen killed in Everett crash, shooting identified

No arrests have been made in the Friday night killing of 17-year-old Gabriel Kartak, of Seattle.

The crab doughnut at Market in Edmonds is a strange delight, with a sweet and dense glazed doughnut topped with bright and briny dungeness crab salad, nutty browned butter and a shower of smoky bacon bits. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)
This idyllic dining destination is right in Snohomish County

Edmonds boasts fresh seafood, Caribbean-inspired sandwiches, artisan breads, cocktails and more.

Most Read