Waterfront District Redevelopment

The Waterfront District

The Port and City of Bellingham are redeveloping 237 acres on Bellingham's central waterfront that was formerly a pulp and tissue mill. A Master Plan has been approved to create a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with new parks and trails and thousands of new jobs. This large land area won't change overnight; it will be redeveloped in phases over the next 40-50 years of investment and development before the project is completely finished.

What's Happening Now?

  • 2021 has been a busy year on Bellingham's downtown waterfront.  The Port, in partnership with the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, added a skills area and jump zone to its increasingly popular waterfront bike park.  The Port is in the process of developing a pop-up container village built from repurposed shipping containers to increase public access as redevelopment gradually occurs over time.  Kulshan Trackside was the first container business to open with a 25,000 square foot beer garden and huge lawn with games for all ages.  The Selkie Scoop was the second container business to open offering homemade, organic ice cream and fresh rolled cones to visitors to the waterfront.  Look for more container businesses to open soon with food, beverage and retail services. The Port also installed restrooms, a basketball hoop, public art and a grass lawn next to the Digester Tanks.  The Bellingham Farmers Market held its Wednesday market on the waterfront throughout the summer.  Harcourt has started construction on waterfront condominiums next to the Granary Building which will be complete in 2023, and the City has started designing an extension of Waypoint Park in front of these condominiums along the Whatcom Waterway.  The Port has also approved an option to sell 3.3 acres of downtown waterfront property for the development of an affordable workforce and family housing and local food campus project
  • The Port opened a waterfront bike park in 2019 in the footprint of what will eventually become a large City park running through the middle of the site.  The bike park is intended to improve public access to the water.
  • Check out this overview video showing recent events in the Waterfront District.
  • In 2019, the City opened the first new roads into the downtown waterfront which include Bellingham's first cycle-track, a bike lane physically separated from motor traffic and distinct from the sidewalk.
  • In 2019, the Port opened a temporary parking lot on the former Georgia-Pacific mill site to provide easy access to Waypoint Park and the Granary Building.
  • In 2019, the Port updated the Waterfront District Master Plan to improve the layout of parks and roads through the interior of the downtown waterfront.
  • In 2018, the Port signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Corix Utilities to develop a low-carbon District Energy implementation strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and efficiently heat and cool buildings using less energy. 
  • The City of Bellingham opened Waypoint Park and Central Pier in 2018 providing the community with public access to the downtown waterfront for the first time in over 100 years.  
  • In 2018, the Port and City finalized a Heritage Trail Concept which includes recommendations on how to showcase historic icons remaining from Georgia-Pacific's pulp and tissue mill. 
  • Check out this amazing demolition video showing the removal of Digester Building.  The Digester Building and Chipper Building were removed in the Fall of 2015 to help prepare the site for development with over 95% of the building materials reused or recycled on-site.  
  • The Port completed a $10 Million project to build a new 57,000 square foot manufacturing facility for local boat builder All American Marine in 2017 bringing new family-wage jobs and private investment to the central waterfront.
  • The Port sold two acres of property and a 48,000 square foot warehouse to local solar panel manufacturer Itek Energy allowing Itek to expand and hire additional employees.  The development of Itek's new solar panel manufacturing plant added over 100 jobs to an increasingly vibrant downtown core.   
  • The Port Commission signed a Master Development Agreement with Dublin-based Harcourt Developments to develop 18.8 acres on Bellingham's downtown waterfront. Harcourt has started construction on their first project, the adaptive reuse of the iconic Granary Building
  • The Port finished a $35 Million cleanup of the Whatcom Waterway in 2016.  This project removed historic contamination, restored salmon habitat, rebuilt marine trades infrastructure along the shoreline and created a significant number of construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities. 
  • The City completed a New Waterfront Trail in 2015 connecting Squalicum Harbor to the former GP Aeration Stabilization Basin.  This new trail offers spectacular views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands.
  • The City  completed the final master plan for Cornwall Beach Park (17-acres) which will be Bellingham's largest waterfront park.
  • The Port is targeting family-wage job industries such as Clean Tech and Marine Cargo and Related Construction for recruitment to the Waterfront District.
  • The Port is working with the Department of Ecology to clean-up contaminated property at six state-listed cleanup sites in the Waterfront District .
  • The Port is working with the City to promote a range of sustainable strategies including the development of district specific utilities and the salvage and reuse of industrial icons from the former Georgia Pacific pulp and paper mill.
  • The Port is designing new stormwater infrastructure for the Shipping Terminal and Marine Trades Area to support working waterfront operations, to protect the environment and to recruit job-creating industrial users.
  • The Port is working with Western Washington University and potential private investors to develop a strategy for facilities and programming which support Western's future expansion to the Waterfront District.