City, port move ahead with waterfront development

Published on Thu, Oct 2, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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City, port move ahead with waterfront development

By Jack Kintner

The Port of Bellingham and the city of Blaine are moving ahead with development plans on the Blaine waterfront, calling for proposals this month from private developers interested in doing projects in what the city’s master plan calls the Wharf District. The process seeks to identify one master developer with which the port and city can set up a public-private partnership. The developer would be expected to provide part of the infrastructure, such as sidewalks along Milhollin Drive, as well as build commercial buildings that would provide a return on the developer’s investment.

The district is centered on Marine Drive and runs west from Peace Portal Drive out to the public pier, and includes the boat launch, Blaine’s 629-slip marina, Marine Park and several privately-owned businesses and buildings.

Blaine’s director of community development Terry Galvin said that plans call for the initial development in the district to occur on a five and a quarter acre parcel on Milhollin Drive. The area is currently occupied by web lockers for Blaine’s fishing fleet but is mostly vacant land.

The parcel is one of seven planning areas into which the district has been divided. “The first area is a transition strip between the wharf district and downtown and runs north and south between Peace Portal and the railroad right-of-way,” said Galvin. “West of that is an open area running from the boat launch north to Marine Drive. The third area will become mixed commercial and residential,” Galvin said.

Blaine Marine Services is the major business in the immediate area and is adjacent to the parcel set for development. Sylvia Goodwin, director of planning and development for the Port of Bellingham, said that the port wants to keep Blaine Marine Services “right where it is.”
As with other business on port property, the business owners own the buildings but lease the land they sit on from the port.

The time table calls for proposals to be submitted by October 31 in order for the port and city to make a selection by December 19. Once a choice is made, construction on the proposed projects would begin next summer.

An information packet is available from the office of Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic. More information is also available from the port’s real estate development manager Shirley McFearin at 360/676-2500.