A capital bond issue is, perhaps, the only real alternative for saving the Collins Building. If passed, it would provide $15 million to renovate this structure, which is one of the few remaining links with Everett’s logging past.
Unlike most other states, standard renovation options such as tax increment and redevelopment financing are not permitted in Washington. A proposed private development of the Collins Building, initiated before the real estate downturn, failed to pencil out financially and never materialized. The current round of lawsuits and public disclosure requests may temporarily delay the building’s demolition, but it will do nothing to provide funds to restore it to a condition where the building can again become usable and economically viable.
In the present era of automatic property tax restrictions, methods to fund improvements for community facilities like schools, libraries, roads and historic properties are extremely limited. The port should be thanked, rather than excoriated, for giving us an opportunity to vote on whether or not to preserve the Collins Building for current and future generations.
The success of this effort may also be a harbinger for the future of other historic buildings that are vacant and slowly deteriorating: the Weyerhaeuser House, also on port property, is another example. As a community, we need to find ways to save our heritage, and one-year special capital levies are the major tool available in Washington state.