With construction on the Granary Building well underway, Harcourt Developments has proposed the next stage of its development of the Bellingham Waterfront.
In a special presentation at the Port of Bellingham’s Oct. 4 meeting, Harcourt Director Pat Power presented the next pieces of the plan.
The Granary Building is expected to be finished in 2017. Also next year, Harcourt could start work on a residential project that directly borders the waterfront. That project would include retail or commercial on the ground floor and condominiums on higher floors, plus underground parking. It would run along the waterfront, with a city park separating it from the Granary Building.
The next project is a commercial building, sometimes called the gateway building, because together with the Granary Building it would serve as the entrance to the waterfront area from downtown. That building would include 100,000 square feet of office space, with retail on the ground floor.
The next project is a retirement and assisted living facility, which would be adjacent to the commercial building.
The final project Power proposed is the renovation of a historic board mill building into a hotel and conference center. The hotel would have 165 rooms, plus 56 extended stay rooms or suites. The conference center is planned to accommodate 800-1000 people.
That idea was first introduced this summer as possibly Harcourt’s very next project, but was set aside in June after some of the port commissioners were hesitant to give the OK.
The board mill building is on land that, under the current plan, is part of the 6 acres set aside for Western Washington University. So far, it looks like the school doesn’t need the building, and it will likely get torn down if Western’s plot of land isn’t moved.
Harcourt’s specialty is in renovating old buildings, and turning them into new resorts and facilities.
The proposed board mill project is especially reminiscent of the company’s Titanic Hotel project in Liverpool, England.
Harcourt worked to transform some historic buildings at Stanley Docks into what is now a luxury hotel and spa and wedding and conference venue.
Harcourt has proposed a new vision plan for the 19 acres of retail, residential and commercial on the waterfront that is significantly different than the original plan.
The company is now calling for a huge city park that stretches the entire length of the waterfront area, among other changes to proposed roads and parks.
The new plan also features the board mill hotel and conference center as a focal point of the area.
Last month, the port completed its capping of the entire site, and it is now cleaned up and ready for building.
The capping was necessary to clean up the ground contamination left behind from decades of pulp and paper manufacturing on the waterfront site.
Georgia-Pacific operated on the land until 2007, when the last of its factories shut down in Bellingham.
More than 1,000 jobs were lost.
The port bought up the land, and has been trying to bring jobs back ever since.
In 2013, the city and port signed on with Ireland-based Harcourt to develop 19 acres, which will be part of a 37-acre mixed-use neighborhood. The rest of the 237 acres will be kept for industrial and port use.