Development is picking up in Blaine

Residential building permits up 95 percent in first half of 2018

By Stefanie Donahue

City staff have the numbers to prove that development is on the rise in Blaine.

In a mid-year report presented to the Blaine City Council on August 27, acting community development director Alex Wenger said 41 residential units were approved by the city between January 1 and June 30 – that’s a 95 percent increase from last year when 21 units were approved by the city during the same period.

All buildings and structures that are erected, moved, added to or altered require a permit issued by a city building inspector.

In 2017, a total of 48 residential units were approved by the city and Wenger predicts that well over 100 will be approved by the end of 2018. The last time more than 100 residential units were approved by the city in one year was in 2005 when 122 units were approved, he said.

The figures reflect a growing housing and rental market in Blaine.

“I think we’re just recovering from the economic downturn,” he said. “Good things are happening in Blaine.”

Windermere real estate agent Mike Kent echoed that sentiment during a separate presentation to the city council on August 27.

Chuckanut Bay Foods, 1649 Boblett Street. Photo courtesy of the city of Blaine

“Blaine’s reputation, and the things that are happening in Blaine, have reached well beyond our city limits,” he said. “In the real estate community, particularly the commercial world, we’ve kind of become the place to talk about in general.”

Kent, along with Jeff Johnson, was hired by the city to list and sell the approximately 6
remaining acres of the city’s former airport property, often referred to as the Gateway parcel.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Wenger said. “I agree with Mike Kent on that.”

According to the report, combined residential and commercial construction values, for new construction and commercial improvements, have exceeded mid-year totals for 2017.

Residential construction values totaled $9,031,242 and non-residential construction values totaled $2,899,367 by June 30 of this year. Last year, residential construction values totaled $5,871,863 and non-residential construction valued $925,000 during the first half of the year.

Several projects are currently underway, including a tenant improvement at 2256 Odell Road called BioPlex 2 valued at $250,000; construction of a new 18,826-square-foot building at 1649 Boblett Street by Chuckanut Bay Foods, valued at $1,494,522; construction of  1,246-square-foot duplexes at 404 B Street, valued at $323,166; and a single family home at 5384 Night Heron Drive, valued at $750,000.

“Robust residential growth continues in central Blaine, including four duplexes approved in the lettered streets, ten single family homes in Drayton Reach and infill home construction throughout the area,” read the report.

It continued, “While the Semiahmoo Shore development approaches buildout capacity with six new homes, activity in the new Sea Smoke neighborhood is starting to pick up. Commercial development on the Gateway Property and new commercial projects downtown provide strong first-half commercial activity as well.”

With all the activity, the city had collected $113,326 in building permit fees halfway through the year. Staff had also issued 88 miscellaneous permits for upgrades to mechanical, plumbing or other minor property improvements.

This year, 36 land use applications were processed, either by city staff, the planning commission or city council. The year prior, 41 applications had been processed. Land use applications are required by the city to ensure developers abide by various zoning, municipal and building codes.

“[The applications set] the stage for people to come out and build those projects,” Wenger said.

On the municipal code enforcement front, the city reported it had collected $6,750 in fines and that seven notices had been issued, according to the report.

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