New Downtown Bellingham Partnership director hopes to "un-subdue" downtown

The Downtown Bellingham Partnership has a new executive director, three new board members and lots of projects in store for 2015.

The nonprofit partnership, which serves as a downtown association, hired Nick Hartrich as executive director at the beginning of the year. He replaces Patrick Hurley who moved to Seattle with his family. Lynn Murphy, Sylvia Goodwin, and Shultzie Willows joined the board late last year, replacing board members whose terms ended.

Hartrich has a background in program management and urban design. In an interview on the partnership’s website, he said his biggest goal is to “un-subdue our urban core.”

From 2006 to 2012, Hartrich was Sustainable Connections’ green building and smart growth program manager. Most recently, from March 2012 to March 2014, He was the International Living Future Institute’s community engagement manager. The Living Future Institute administers the Living Building Challenge – a stringent sustainable building accreditation – and other green building programs.

“Nick brings tons of experience and creativity to the partnership, and his energetic personality will be a great asset to all of downtown,” Hurley, the former director, said in a press release.

Hartrich has lived in Bellingham for 16 years. He said in a phone interview that the Downtown Bellingham Partnership has a lot of projects in the works and he’s excited to work with an organization that he calls the “epicenter of Bellingham.”

“Bellingham is a sweet community and there are lots of opportunities to collaborate,” Hartrich said. “We are unleashing a whole brand of creative ideas on downtown.”

Hartrich is already working on a program to add art and design elements to downtown.

The partnership, The City of Bellingham, Sustainable Connections, Allied Arts of Whatcom County, Whatcom County Association of Realtors and Northwest American Institute of Architects partnered to launch a design competition called KAPOW on Jan. 5.

The competition invites people to design inexpensive projects for Bellingham’s alleys, parking spaces, and other underutilized spaces, Hartrich said.

Winning ideas will receive “seed funding” for the projects. Applications for KAPOW projects are due Jan. 30.

Find more information and project applications see Sustainable Connections’ website for the competition:

Downtown Bellingham Partnership’s three new board members began in late 2014. Murphy is currently a community services manager for Puget Sound Energy, Goodwin is the Port of Bellingham’s director of planning and development and Willows is the development and outreach director for Lydia Place, a nonprofit that serves the homeless.



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