The Port of Bellingham has reached a milestone agreement with Ireland-based Harcourt Developments to develop a new commercial and residential area on 19 acres of Bellingham’s downtown waterfront.
"This is a momentous day,” said Port Commission President Dan Robbins. “Harcourt is an experienced private investment partner and this agreement finally sets forth a timeline for the construction of new buildings, roads and parks which will connect downtown Bellingham to its waterfront.”
Under the terms of the Master Development Agreement, Harcourt will complete two major building projects on Bellingham’s central waterfront no later than the end of 2021. Harcourt will adaptively reuse the Granary Building by 2019, and complete construction of a second building with a minimum of 40,000 square feet of mixed-use space by 2021. Development of the first two buildings may occur faster, but no later than the deadlines specified in the agreement.
The Granary Building, built in 1928, is located at the entrance to the downtown waterfront redevelopment area and is distinguished by an iconic cupola structure.
“It’s very exciting to have a developer on-board so we can finally start the redeveloping the waterfront,” said Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville. “The people have been waiting a very, very long time to reconnect to their waterfront. This will be the people’s waterfront with jobs and recreation and parks and places for people to go. I’m excited and looking forward to seeing it happen, and the sooner the better.”
Harcourt’s vision for Bellingham's downtown waterfront is consistent with the Port and City’s Master Plan which was developed over many years in close collaboration with the citizens of Whatcom County.
“Bellingham’s waterfront is a fantastic site and a great opportunity,” said Patrick Power, Group Property Sales Director for Harcourt. “Our Park West development project in Dublin, Ireland is similar to what we envision in Bellingham with a mix of uses including residential, hotel, office, an award winning business campus, and remarkable open spaces.”
The 19 acres to be developed by Harcourt is adjacent to six acres of property which has been reserved for Western Washington University.
“This is an agreement we can all be really proud of and we look forward to that partnership in the future,” said Western Washington University President Bruce Shepherd.
"We are excited at the opportunity to collaborate with Western Washington University and develop incubator space to support local start-up companies,” said Power.
Beginning this summer, the public will see a significant amount of construction activity on Bellingham’s central waterfront as the Port continues extensive site preparation and environmental cleanup activities.
The City is set to build new roads and parks for the public to access the waterfront beginning in 2016.
The agreement with Harcourt allows building construction to begin as early as 2016. In total, Harcourt will develop 1,000,000 square feet of mixed-use buildings by 2034. The Port can terminate the Master Development Agreement if performance standards are not met, however limited extensions may be granted to accommodate fluctuations in market conditions.
“We are excited to return this property to the tax base and help stimulate the downtown waterfront economy,” said Robbins.