Western Waterfront Development
Western Washington University at the Bellingham Waterfront District
One of the most dynamic waterfront development projects on the west coast is taking place in Bellingham, Washington, and Western Washington University is excited about being a part of it. Western has planned to be a part of this new development since late in 2002 when the City and Port of Bellingham first began discussions about the potential waterfront project. Western’s commitment to expansion of the main campus to the waterfront has been ongoing since that time through active campus-wide planning and through WWU representation on the community’s Waterfront Futures Group and the Waterfront Advisory Group.
Western’s commitment was raised to another level when it made the first step to acquiring property in the Bellingham Waterfront District. On June 14, 2013, the WWU Board of Trustees approved a Memorandum of Understanding authorizing President Bruce Shepard to transfer ownership of a Western property located at the corner of Hannegan Road and Bakerview Road in Bellingham into Western Crossing Development. WCD, a non-profit corporation created by WWU and the Port of Bellingham, has put the property up for sale with proceeds of the sale being used to purchase property in the Bellingham Waterfront District. That property is composed of six acres located in the Institutional Mixed Use Zone, which the Port of Bellingham is transferring into Western Crossing.
Indeed, what was once just a vision is becoming a step closer to reality. Despite severe cuts in state funding support of more than 50 percent between 2009 and 2012, Western has continued to plan for a facility and programming at the Bellingham waterfront that will further enhance its ability to meet its strategic goals which are:
- Build upon Western's strengths to address critical needs in the State of Washington.
- Expand student access to rigorous and engaging baccalaureate and graduate education.
- Foster and promote life-long learning and success in an ever-changing world.
- Apply Western's expertise and collaborative approach to scholarship, creativity, and research in ways that strengthen communities beyond the campus.
- Serve as a model for institutional effectiveness, innovation, diversity, and sustainability.
Western’s expansion to the Bellingham Waterfront District is an on-going two phase process. In Phase 1 WWU became a partner with Bellingham Technical College in the Technology Development Center in 2009. In Phase 2 a Community Learning Center will be constructed in the Institutional Mixed Use area.
For a complete history of Western’s planning for expansion of the main campus to the Bellingham Waterfront District, the following links are available for review:
- Narrative on Initial Planning Process (PDF)
- Timeline on Western and the Waterfront (PDF)
- Viking Development Entity (Now Western Crossing) (PDF)
- Character Study Report (PDF)
- Waterfront Futures Group
- White Paper (PDF)