In their search for a larger production facility, Aluminum Chambered Boats has been eyeing parts of the 250,000-square-foot Georgia-Pacific tissue warehouse, located on prime waterfront real estate. Now, with millions of dollars worth of backlogged projects, they want all of it.
The sooner the better, too, said ACB president Tim Metz.
“I want to be operational in a new facility in six to nine months,” Metz said. “I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to ask a landlord ‘please lease me a building because I have all these contracts coming up.’ ”
In November, the company gave the port preliminary designs and space requirements, in which they expressed an interest in using a majority of the space.
ACB would be a suitable tenant for the building, but the details need to be hammered out, said Shirley McFearin, real estate development manager for the port.
“They fit within the port’s strategic goals,” McFearin said. “But we’re still working with ACB to determine the exact space they need.”
The building was slated early on in the port’s conceptual drawings as a marine trade center and was recently chosen to house the Bellingham Innovation Partnership Zone. Approximately 10,000 square feet of the building have been earmarked for the innovation zone and the port received a $1 million grant in October to develop the necessary infrastructure.
The existing zoning and shoreline regulations for the building allow for manufacturing uses, so that would not hinder ACB as possible tenants, port officials said. Currently, the building is zoned for heavy industry and will remain as such until the city and port approve a master plan.
While the fate of the G-P warehouse is being discussed, the master planning process for the 220-acre Waterfront District continues to move forward. A draft master plan should be ready for public and government review in April and could be approved by July, said Sylvia Goodwin, planning and development director for the port.
That timeline may be too long for ACB, said Metz. In case the G-P warehouse doesn’t work out, the company is also researching possible locations as close as Skagit County and as far away as Mississippi.
“We would like to stay in Bellingham,” Metz said. “It’s our preferred location.”