Development update: projects pick up after recession

Each year the BBJ follows up with developers to find out which projects will break ground and which broke down.

As the airport expands, so too does hotel development. Four hotels are planned for Bellingham, and three may break ground this year — each of them within just a couple miles of the airport.

Still, the slight uptick in activity isn’t isolated to Bellingham, said Jim Tinner, city of Bellingham building official. With the exception of those in very rural areas, city and county building departments are optimistic, he said.

“It’s not great, but it’s better,” Tinner said. “You can kind of feel it in the air.”

Some factors could squelch that optimism, though. If gas hits $4 per gallon, development may end up back at lower levels, Tinner said.

Marriott Hotel

Address: 4034 Northwest Ave.

Developer: 360 Hotel Group

Plans: Five-story hotel with 204 rooms and underground parking

Status: In permitting

Update: After years of planning, 360 Hotel Group has applied for permits to build its planned 130,000-square-foot Marriott Hotel, plus a 38,000-square-foot underground parking garage. The project has an estimated price tag of about $19.5 million.

Shaiza Damji, managing director for 360 Hotel Group, said she can’t be sure about the exact permitting timeline, but the group would like to begin construction this year and open the hotel in 2012.

The hotel’s 3.8-acre lot is on Northwest Avenue, near W. Bakerview Road. Once finished, the Marriott will be the largest hotel in the county.

Damji said they decided to build in Bellingham because they see the hotel as a good fit for the area.

“We think it’s a great market,” she said. “We think Bellingham is a wonderful place.”

The group decided to build here before they heard about the Bellingham International Airport expansion, Damji said. Still, expansion was in full swing when the group turned in its application to build in 2010, and Damji said growth at the airport, which will be a neighbor of the future hotel, was welcome news.

“It encourages us,” Damji said.

La Quinta Inn

Address: 1063 W. Bakerview Road

Owner: Parador Inc. of Surrey, B.C.

Plans: Four-story, 81-room hotel

Status: In permitting

Update: On Dec. 17, the city accepted an application to build another new hotel, the La Quinta Inn, near the Marriott Hotel site, between Fred Meyer and Northwest Ave. This will be Bellingham’s second La Quinta Inn ― there’s one nearby, just off of Meridian Street.

Construction of the hotel is estimated at $4.3 million, according to the building permit.

This project doesn’t appear to have been in the works as long as the Marriott. Project architect Dale Sweeney from Bellevue said they had their pre-application conference with the city in May 2010.

Sweeney said he thinks construction will begin in the next month, but because the permitting process can be somewhat unpredictable, the start date is uncertain.

“Hopefully, here pretty soon we get a building permit and start building,” Sweeney said.

They hope to have the building completed in October or November 2011, he said.

Pacific Plaza Hotel

Address: W. Bakerview Road

Developer: Morgan Bartlett

Plans: 77-room, 40,000- to 50,000- square-foot motel

Status: In permitting

Update: A third hotel is planned for the West Bakerview area, near the Pacific Highway. Developer Morgan Bartlett is waiting for the city to approve a plan development permit for the project, which he submitted three to four months ago, he said.

Bartlett hasn’t decided whether he will build the project himself or sell the property and permits to a hotel chain, he said. If Bartlett does build, he hopes to start construction in late spring of 2011 and finish by the end of the year, he said.

Bartlett decided to start the permitting process for the site because he likes the location. It’s on W. Bakerview Road, which is busy and growing, he said, and close to the airport and Interstate 5. That, and the timing is right.

“I think the market is right for it right now,” Bartlett said. “The airport is expanding, and I think it’s a very, very good time to do it because the market is coming back, too.”

Fairhaven Harbor

Address: 800 Harris Ave.

Developer: Patrick Uy

Plans: Mixed-use building with a 100-unit hotel, condos and commercial space

Status: In planning

Update: When Fairhaven Harbor was first announced in November 2004, it was going to be 80 condos, 5,000 square feet of commercial space and one level of underground parking. But market demands have changed, and so have project plans. Plans now include 11 condos, 10,000 square feet of commercial space, two levels of underground parking and, as a sign of the times, a 100-unit hotel.

The building footprint on the site was reduced by 3,000 square feet and now totals 23,000 square feet and will be pulled away from Padden Creek by about 20 feet. In line with the old plan, the building will appear as four structures. The height was reduced on part of the building ― the tallest peak will remain at 85 feet.

If permits are submitted in the next two months, they could be ready to build in 2012, said Ali Taysi, project manager and principal at AVT Consulting LLC. It all depends on the permitting process, though, he said.

Regal Cinemas

Address: southwest corner of Barkley Village

Developer: Barkley Company

Plans: 16-screen theater, restaurants and retail

Status: In planning

Update: The Barkley Company has been working with Regal Cinemas for more than a year and is now close to finalizing a deal for a 68,000-square-foot, 16-screen theater on Barkley Company’s land west of Barkley Haggen.

Assuming everything moves forward as planned, planning and architecture work will be done this spring and then permits will be submitted, Barkley Company owner Stowe Talbot said.

“Theoretically, we could see construction start mid-summer,” he said.

Phase one construction could be completed by spring or summer of 2012.

In addition to the theater, phase one construction will include three buildings for restaurants and retail. Barkley Boulevard will be widened and a new traffic signal installed at Howe Place as part of that phase, too.

A second phase of construction will include retail, residential, restaurants and parking garages. Phase two is probably a few years off still, Talbot said; it’s on hold until market conditions become more favorable.

King Mountain Urban Village

Address: north of King Mountain Neighborhood and east of Guide Meridian

Developer: Ralph Black, Alliance Properties

Plans: Urban village with about 900 residential units (single-family residences, condos and townhouses) and between 60,000 and 100,00 square feet of mixed-use commercial space.

Status: In planning

Update: Developer Ralph Black said he will submit an application for the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan rezone needed to move ahead with the project. He should have something to report at the end of February, he said.

Infrastructure permits could be turned in by the end of the year. If Black gets those permits by fall 2011, he hopes to start construction in spring or summer 2012 and make the first homes available in the first part of 2013.

In the meantime, he has been busy taking care of consulting work and critical area studies.

Fairhaven Hotel

Address: 1200 Harris Ave.

Developer: Ralph Black, Alliance Properties

Plans: Five-story retail/office building

Status: On hold

Update: This project has taken a backseat to King Mountain Urban Village, which is eating up most of developer Ralph Black’s time.

“Until it slows down, we won’t be putting a lot of energy into the Fairhaven project,” Black said.

Morse Square Apartments

Address: 1010 Railroad Ave.

Developer: Rick Westerop, West-Lind Construction

Plans: Four, mixed-use buildings with apartments

Status: In permitting

Update: On Dec. 27, the Morse Square project moved ahead, slightly, when the city accepted an application for a new mixed-use building. The building has an estimated cost of $3.7 million.

The current plan, which is tentative at this point, is for a five-story, 56-unit apartment building with commercial space on the ground floor.

Jersey Street apartment building

Address: 1211 Jersey St.

Developer: MDHS Investments LLC

Plans: Two-story, 16-unit apartment building

Status: Redesigned

Update: This project has been dramatically scaled back due to finances. Original plans were for a $4.8 million, four-story, mixed-use apartment complex with 24 units.

The new project is a two-story, 16-unit apartment building with a price tag of $2.8 million, including land costs. The old design was fully permitted, and although the new plan is not, project co-owner Mike Hayes expects the process to go quickly because the building’s footprint and other aspects of the project are identical to the old one.

Still, the process will take longer than initially planned.

“We wanted to finish it by fall, and that’s not going to happen,” Hayes said.

Lincoln St. lifestyle center

Address: 1199 Lincoln St.

Developer: Derek Stebner

Plans: Commercial, condominiums, apartments, hotel

Status: Project cancelled

Update: Plans for the 24 acres along the west side of Lincoln Street and just south of the Lakeway Fred Meyer may be derailed due to foreclosure. According to a foreclosure sale notice filed with the city of Bellingham, the developer owes $4.2 million, and if he does not pay it off, the land will be sold at a public auction Feb. 18.

The project plan contained a mix of commercial office and retail space with condominiums and apartments. It also featured a hotel, multi-level shopping and a mix of underground and structured parking.

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One thought on “Development update: projects pick up after recession

  1. Looks like Bellingham is really shaping up. Wonder what ‘s going on in Blaine these days for development. At the least, some gas stations. Canadians love the malls and with the exchange at par, what a bargain.

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