Waterfront Development

2004 Waterfront Forums

The first forum was held on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 to discuss Western’s involvement in the development the Bellingham Waterfront. Members of the President’s Committee on Enrollment and the Waterfront were available to discuss the committee’s draft of guiding principles.

The second forum, led by Jim Darling, Executive Director for the Port of Bellingham, and colleagues Bill Hager, Director of Real Estate & Planning and Mike Stoner, Director of Environmental Programs, presented the current status of Port work with Georgia Pacific to define the future of the Georgia Pacific property and the waterfront. Approximately 100 people attended.

Questions were asked concerning cleanup and related issues, timing of decisions and development
(1-50 years), and potential locations for WWU development. These included

  • Significant studies of the need for cleanup have been conducted. Costs of cleanup as part of the land transfer deal with GP will be projected around November 16. If GP were to do the cleanup, they would likely accomplish a standard suitable for industry rather than the multiple commercial, educational, recreational and residential uses that are envisioned.
  • Presenters pointed out that the project is unfolding, and will be phased in slowly so that the market isn’t flooded with new building square footage. The intent of the project is to enhance the downtown and waterfront, and so the project will try to avoid strain to businesses and properties downtown.
  • The brick buildings on the GP property are in good shape (seismically sound, etc.), and may be restored using federal tax credits.
  • No decisions have been made concerning locations of participants and developers.
  • Darling pointed out that opportunities for choice and for funding deals are likely to be better for early participants. Public ownership of the land is an important concept the group has stressed, but private developers may be used once the initial foundation for the character of the area is laid. Though the timing is uncertain, WWU will do well to be prepared when the opportunities arise.
  • The approximate build out value of the properties is estimated at between $760 M to $1B – without considering the substantial cleanup costs.

The third forum on Thursday, November 18, 2004 began the process of generating and collecting programmatic ideas about how WWU might be involved in the waterfront development, consistent with the draft principles discussed at the first forum.