Development stalls, but some projects move forward

Update on 10 local projects shows slowing condo sales


Photo by Isaac Bonnell

WHATCOM PLAZA: The two single-story buildings that face the street were just completed in mid-December, and provide about 16,000 square feet of commercial space, Keith Troske said.


It’s been a tough year for developers.

As the market for new homes has slowly imploded, the financial markets that support large mixed-use projects have spiraled down as well.

For some local developers, this means waiting until the economy levels out. Others are not as fortunate and must continue searching for financing. And for those just completing a project, an uncertain market awaits them.

Listed below are several sizable developments and a quick update.


1. Morse Square Apartments

Address: 1010 Railroad Ave.

Developer: Rick Westerop, West-Lind Construction

Plans: Two buildings, each six-stories tall with 140 apartments

First announced: Nov. 2002

Status: In review

Update: Westerop had originally planned on two, 18-story buildings with condos, but has since changed to smaller apartment buildings. “Apartments have good demand right now and condos have slowed down,” Westerop said. “It’s just too hard for everybody to get financing these days.”


2. The Edge

Address: 950 Lincoln St.

Developer: Rick Westerop, Jim Laing and Tim Ankeman

Plans: Three buildings, with 55 condo units and 3,560 square feet of ground floor commercial space

First announced: July 2006

Status: Under construction

Update: Westerop said he plans to be finished by March 2009. Thus far, no units have sold.


3. Fairhaven Harbor

Address: 800 Harris Ave.

Developer: Ted Mischaikov

Plans: Five buildings with a total of 51 units, plus six townhouses. One building is eight stories, the other will be five.

First announced: Nov. 2004

Status: On hold

Update: Mischaikov said he is still looking for financing, but expects to break ground in the second quarter of next year.


4. Fairhaven Hotel

Address: 1200 Harris Ave.

Developer: Ralph Black

Plans: Renovation of the hotel which was originally built in 1890. Plans still under development.

First announced: Aug. 2008

Status: Working on plans

Update: After holding a community meeting in October, Black said he is back to the drawing board to finalize plans. In the meantime, site cleanup continues.

“We’re very committed to not rushing this,” he said. “You only get one shot to do this right.”

Black said he plans to have another community meeting in three to four months.


5. Fairhaven Highlands

Address: Between Chuckanut Drive and Old Fairhaven Parkway

Developer: Greenbriar Northwest Associates LLC

Plans: 739 units of single and multi-family residences

First announced: April 2005

Status: In progress

Update: In December 2007, Bellingham’s planning director Tim Stewart ruled that the development would have significant environmental impacts and would require an official Environmental Impact Statement. Project spokesman Bob Tull said the EIS is almost complete and will be ready for public review and comment in about month.


6. City Parking Garage

Address: 1115 Cornwall Ave.

Developer: City of Bellingham

Plans: New city parking garage

First announced: Jan. 2008

Status: Purchase pending

Update: In January, the BBJ reported that the City of Bellingham had issued a purchase-and-sale agreement for the site, but that agreement never made it to City Council for final approval and the property was sold to The Bank of the Pacific in October.

In December, however, the city reached an agreement with The Bank of the Pacific to purchase the site for $1.53 million, said Patty Fernandez, real property manager for public works.

“We have the go-ahead from City Council and are planning to close by the end of the year,” she said.


7. Bellwether Gate

Address: 21 Bellwether Way

Developer: David Ebenal, Ebenal General

Plans: Four mixed use buildings, the tallest of which is four stories

First announced: Feb. 2007

Status: Broke ground in November

Update: Ebenal said construction has begun on the first and tallest of the buildings, which will house the engineering firm CH2M HILL. He plans to have it completed in 12 to 15 months and then start construction on the other buildings in summer 2009.


8. St. Paul’s Episcopal School

Address: 1509 E. Victor St.

Developer: St. Paul’s Episcopal School

Plans: New middle school and high school

First announced: Jan. 2006

Status: Waiting for financing

Update: Head of school Stephanie Sadler said all the details of the project have been worked out except for the loan. The school began talking to lenders in January 2008, but hasn’t received any confirmations yet.

“They’re not too worried about us, they’re worried about the larger financial situation,” she said. “But it seems like money is loosening up a little bit now.”

Sadler said that the school is close to finalizing a deal and should do so this month. According to permit data, the estimated cost of the project is $8,500,000.


9. Whatcom Plaza

Address: 4260, 4256 and 4252 Cordata Parkway.

Developer: Keith and Barbara Troske

Plans: Three buildings totaling 23,000 square feet of retail space. One two-story building.

First announced: Oct. 2007

Status: Two buildings complete

Update: The two single-story buildings that face the street were just completed in mid-December, and provide about 16,000 square feet of commercial space, Keith Troske said. No tenants are slated to move in yet, but Troske said there are several businesses eyeing the space. The third building will be two stories tall and Troske said the ground work is done, but he will “finish it as demand dictates.”


10. Squalicum Lofts

Address: 905 Squalicum Parkway.

Developer: Michael and Jim Allsop

Plans: Four LEED-designed light industrial buildings, totaling 128,500 square feet of space on 7.5 acres

First announced: May 2006

Status: Under construction

Update: Building A, which has about 13,000 square feet of space, will be completed in February, and construction on the 40,000-square-foot Building B will commence in January, said Michael Allsop.

By September, Allsop said he plans to relocate Allsop Inc., a local consumer electronics company, to a portion of Building B. The remaining space is for sale and lease and Allsop said about 60 percent of it is taken.

The remaining two buildings have yet to be designed and are not budgeted to be built in 2009, Allsop said.

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