Port might buy $4.1 million Bellwether office building

The Port of Bellingham is considering a $4.1 million purchase of a 36,000-square-foot office building at Bellwether on the Bay.

Port commissioners plan to consider the proposal during their next public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The office building, called the Bayview Center, is owned by Bellwether Harbor Investments LLP, a group of investors led by local developer Andre Molnar. The company purchased the Hotel Bellwether and the office building from Peter Paulsen in 2007.

The building, including the small kiosk in front of it, was constructed in 2001 by Paulsen, who also built the hotel.

“Bellwether Harbor Investment LLP’s main focus is the operation of the Hotel Bellwether,” Molnar said, in a press release from the port. “We believe that the Port of Bellingham is better equipped and prepared to operate the office complexes at Bellwether on the Bay, hence enhancing the success of this beautiful waterfront development.”

The “class A” office building currently has 18 tenants with 85 percent of its space occupied. It was appraised in 2012 for $5 million.

The port owns the similar Bellwether Building nearby, which is also mixed use and class A office space.

“Ever since the new Bellwether Gate project paid the port its long-term land lease for its four new buildings in a lump sum, we have been seeking a good investment opportunity for this money so that it can produce ongoing revenues for the port,” said Rob Fix, the port’s executive director. “I believe this building, which is adjacent to a property we already own and operate, is the right investment for these funds.”

The full purchase price for the port is $4.58 million, but it is discounted to $4.1 million providing that the Hotel Bellwether retains priority use of the ballroom for 10 years up to four times a month.

The remaining bookings will be done by the port’s Meetings and Events Department, which already manages rentals at the Squalicum Boathouse and the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, as well as other port meeting spaces.

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