Port to begin 2nd negotiation period with possible waterfront developer

Port of Bellingham commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to enter a second 120-day negotiation period with a Harcourt Developments Limited over the city’s central waterfront.

The port is evaluating whether Harcourt, a Dublin-based developer, will become the lead developer for a 10.8 acre slice of the 237-acre former industrial waterfront at the west edge of downtown.

During the first 120-day negotiation period, which ended July 3, the port educated Harcourt on the timing of cleanup activities, the port and city’s masterplan for the waterfront, the cities responsibility regarding roads and infrastructure, and Western Washington University’s presence on the waterfront, said Rob Fix, the port’s executive director.

“The goal of the first 120 days was to see if there was a deal to be had here,” Fix said. “We don’t have a formal agreement to put forward at this time but we do have a lot of accomplishments.”

In the next 120-day negotiation period, Fix said the port will make sure the city and Harcourt can agree on street alignment, get WWU and Harcourt talking, and further discuss the granary building, which is included in the initial 10.8-acre development. Currently, Harcourt intends to retain the original granary and the board mill buildings, Fix said.

“They intend to make these very distinctive, iconic projects,” he said.

Also in the next 120 days, Harcourt and the port will negotiate a development schedule, a purchase price for the land, and a performance criteria for Harcourt’s work. They will also discuss the possibility of Harcourt developing a second 10-acre section of the waterfront.

“One of the things we’ve told them all along is that in order to get to that second 10 acres, they have to perform on the first 10 acres,” Fix said.

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