Port commission could approve waterfront agreement on March 31

After more than a year of negotiating with Harcourt Developments of Ireland, the Port of Bellingham could finally sign an agreement with the firm at a March 31 meeting.

Port Executive Director Rob Fix presented a not-quite-final version of an agreement with Harcourt for development of 19 acres of the former G-P waterfront at the Port of Bellingham’s March 17 commission meeting.

The agreement covers a 19-acre parcel at the northwest end of the waterfront, which includes the historic Granary Building.

The agreement stipulates that the the Granary Building would be completed by 2019, a second building would be completed by 2021, a third building by 2024, half the project would be completed by 2029 and the project would be finished by 2034.

Commissioner Dan Robbins compared the pace of development to Barkley Village and the Bellwether on the Bay.

“You’re not going to see an urban village pop up there overnight, it’s going to take time,” he said.

The port commission would approve development on a project-by-project basis, with Harcourt purchasing land for $20 per square foot.

The $20 price is the result of multiple appraisals that considered geotechnical and seismic concerns on the land — it’s composed of fill from dredging and construction debris — as well as infrastructure that the city will provide, the site’s underground infrastructure, its value to Whatcom County citizens and other considerations, Fix said.

“This would put the land back on the tax roll,” Fix said. “If we were in the land speculation business we’d wait and try to get a higher price, but it’s not producing jobs and it’s not contributing to our economy.”

A draft of the agreement will be on the Port of Bellingham’s website on Wednesday, March 18, Port staff said at the meeting.


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