Developer plans 15-story tower on Bakerview



Preliminary plans for Morgan Bartlett’s Olympic Tower, at the intersection of W. Bakerview Road and Pacific


A local developer’s plans for a 15-story tower near Bellingham’s airport are designed to cash in on the upcoming 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.

Preliminary plans for Olympic Tower call for a mixed-use building located on a one-acre site at the intersection of W. Bakerview Road and Pacific Highway, across from the Fred Meyer shopping center, and could include hotel, residential and office uses, developer Morgan Bartlett said.

Bartlett, who is also the developer of Bakerview Square, said the tower would cost a ballpark total of about $20 million for the land acquisition and construction. Bartlett currently has a pending offer on the site that he expects to close in about six weeks, he said.

Bartlett said the idea is to model the building after several examples of mixed-use residential hotels in Seattle and Vancouver, where residents have access to all the amenities of a hotel, such as a pool, restaurant and maid service.

“Basically to just have kind of a pampered lifestyle,” he said. While the trend is catching on in larger cities, Bartlett said he is still examining the feasibility of such an arrangement in Bellingham.

Bartlett said the tower’s name is inspired by the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, and expects to cater to visitors attending and traveling to the event.

“I think it will be an exciting time, and my goal is to offer an upscale hotel-restaurant-convention center to not only travelers from around the world, but also the long-term (Bellingham) business and leisure market,” he said.

Bartlett said the site’s proximity to the airport and freeway visibility, as well as its location on a busy corner, make it an ideal spot to try the idea.

So far, he has had several preliminary meetings with the city’s planning department but said he is about six months away from making a final decision about the project’s plans and submitting permit applications.

Bartlett is working with local architect Mitch Muscutt from Faber Brothers Construction, who designed Bakerview Square, on the preliminary plans. If the project moves forward, he said he would also employ another architect with more tower design experience.

City planner Brian Smart said in concept the project is a good idea, especially its use of the site’s topography to create an under-building, three-level parking garage.

He said he had some concerns with the appearance of the building’s foundation “pour” wall on the north side, and said he advised Bartlett to use some sort of texture so it wasn’t just a concrete wall. He also mentioned the site may have some access issues to and from W Bakerview Road because of the freeway off ramp and overpass.

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