Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bellingham Port Approves Waterfront Redevelopment Plans

The Bellingham, Washington City Council and Port of Bellingham Commissioners this week moved a big step toward redevelopment of the city’s waterfront by adopting a package of master planning and development agreements for the Waterfront District.

The City Council approved the Waterfront District master plan and associated documents on Mon., Dec. 2, and the Port Commission did the same on Tues., Dec. 3. The approved documents include a master plan, development regulations, development agreements, planned action ordinance and a facilities agreement that describes the investments the port and city are making in the 237-acre waterfront site.

“I am ready to move forward and I believe the entire community is ready to move from planning the waterfront redevelopment to actually doing it,” Port Commission President Jim Jorgensen said.

Although environmental cleanup projects, demolition and site preparation have been underway for years, the approval sets the stage for redevelopment work to begin, including design and construction of early roads, parks and trails, as well as selection of developers to begin making investments in the property.

“Our goal is to find developers who share the community’s vision for the waterfront and who have the ability to be long-term partners in this important development,” port Executive Director Rob Fix said.

These redevelopment plans underwent a decade of public participation and planning that began in January 2003, when the port and city established the citizen-led Waterfront Futures Group. The group spent more than a year guiding a visioning process for the 11 miles of Bellingham Bay shoreline within the city limits.

“This plan will transform an isolated and contaminated site into a vibrant and thriving place that is restored and accessible,” Bellingham City Council President Seth Fleetwood said.