Fairhaven Highlands heads toward foreclosure

The contentious Fairhaven Highlands housing development may be on its last leg. On March 9, Washington Federal Savings and Loan Association took preliminary steps to foreclose on the property when it filed an action in Whatcom Superior Court seeking to place the Fairhaven Highlands property in receivership.

The project has caused disagreements between environmental advocates and developer Greenbriar Northwest Associates since Greenbriar proposed it in 2005. It would have included 739 housing units on approximately 82 undeveloped acres in an area referred to as Chuckanut Ridge and the Hundred Acre Wood.

The city of Bellingham has long considered purchasing the property in order to preserve the forestland, and the bank’s action “is an important step forward in the city potentially acquiring the property,” according to a March 9 statement released by the city.

The filing is evidence of Washington Federal’s intent to offer the property to the city for purchase at the price of $8.87 million, if Washington Federal acquires title to the property as the result of its foreclosure action, Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said in a press release.

Washington Federal acquired a portfolio of Horizon Bank loans when Horizon failed Jan. 8, 2010, including a loan made to Greenbriar Northwest secured by a deed of trust on the Fairhaven Highlands property.

“We have inherited this thing and what we have tried to do is come to a conclusion with the borrower,” said Tom Kenney,

Washington Federal Northwest regional executive. “We had sincerely hoped that we could get to resolution without litigation … but our hand was really forced on this.”

Neither Greenbriar Northwest developer David Edelstein nor his attorney, Steve Adelstein, could be reached for comment.

Washington Federal has not considered offering to sell the property to any buyers other than the city, Kenney said. If the bank is successful in acquiring the land, it intends to sell the property to the city for the $8.87 million, which is its current assessed value, he said.

The majority of funding for purchasing the property would come from voter-approved Greenways funds and parks impact fees collected on Bellingham’s south side, Pike said in the release, and he hopes to supplement public funding with contributions from nonprofit and private sources.

“This is another significant step toward bringing the long saga of Chuckanut Ridge to a satisfactory conclusion,” Pike said in press release. “We hope to add this property to Bellingham’s portfolio, advancing the city’s commitment to stewardship and sustainability today and for future generations.”

*This story was updated to reflect the correct name of Greenbriar Northwest developer David Edelstein’s attorney

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