Port of Everett reworks Marina District plans

  • By Debra Smith Herald Business Journal
  • Friday, March 22, 2013 1:03pm

EVERETT — Machines and rubble dominate a big swath of the Everett waterfront this spring as Kimberly-Clark mill buildings come down.

North of the mill site, another major transformation is just getting started on the waterfront between 12th and 15th streets.

If all goes as planned, next year workers could begin building the first stages of a multimillion-dollar development at the Port of Everett that includes:

  • Waterfront hotels, retail shops and restaurants;
  • As many as 350 apartments and condominiums;
  • An 18-acre employment center for office and light manufacturing businesses;
  • Two parks; and
  • Significant upgrades to nearby north marina.

The 45-acre development is located in an area the port calls the Marina District. It’s near where a developer planned a more ambitious $400 million Port Gardner Wharf project that fell apart after the developer filed for bankruptcy following the recession in 2008.

Commissioners agreed in March to begin soliciting bids to handle the environmental cleanup for the land. The cleanup should be underway by July, said spokeswoman Lisa Lefeber.

The port has been working to clean up brownfield sites in the Marina District since 2004, and the environmental clean up is nearly complete, she said.

Once the upland cleanup is complete, workers could begin work in 2014 on the marina and the village center, which includes housing and retail shops. The employment center and other improvements would come as money and the economy allow.

“This will restore the environmental health of the land and create the ability for sustained reuse of the site,” said port commissioner Troy McClelland.

This time, officials are proceeding more cautiously. The port is the master developer, which enables officials to have more flexibility over how and when development happens.

Several companies have already expressed interest in the employment center, Lefeber said. The port has also heard from developers, although she declined to provide further details.

The character of the development is far different than the Port Gardner Wharf project. After that project was scuttled, port officials asked the community what they wanted.

What they heard, in part, is that the previous plan felt too much like a private community rather than a community asset. People wanted more open space, upgrades to the marina, more opportunities for work and less dense housing. They wanted the development to be a destination for locals and tourists alike.

This plan instead aims to create a maritime community that emphasizes boating, maritime business, jobs and public access.

This plan includes two large parks rather than many smaller public spaces, less dense development, fewer condos and surface parking rather than underground parking. More than a third of the site is dedicated to public access.

The heart of the development is a village center that includes apartments, restaurants, small shops, a hotel, a clubhouse for marina tenants and a place for short-term marina guests to tie up their boats. It would be built south of Port Gardner Way, in the area where Scuttlebutt Brewing Co. used to be along W. Marine View Drive.

Nearby North Marina would get millions of dollars in upgrades, including moorage for commercial vessels, guest moorage, upgraded docks, power, gatehouses, gangways and an area for open moorage. The plan includes preserving existing uses.

The port plans to form partnerships with multiple private companies, who in turn would develop buildings on site. The port expects to spend a total of $30 million on infrastructure.

The port is still working out a strategy for how to pay for its portion of the development. That should be sorted out this year, McClelland said.

The new development plan still needs to be approved by the Everett City Council. That’s also expected to happen this year.

“It’s a balanced plan that should create a place that can be used 365 days a year,” McClelland said.

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