A proposed agreement by the city and a large, longtime business could lead to a major transformation of Bellingham’s Old Town district.
The city is considering entering into an agreement to relocate Northwest Recycling out of the district, clearing the way for redeveloping a nine-block area. Northwest Recycling is operated by Parberry’s Inc., which owns about 46 percent of the developable property in Old Town, according to the city.
In return for Northwest Recycling moving, the city would agree to invest about $2.5 million in public infrastructure improvements that would support the redevelopment of the Parberry properties by the company, according to a news release from the city. The infrastructure work would include improvements to the streets, water lines and sewer system.
Along with that investment, the city also would give Parberry’s an option to purchase the city-owned 600 W. Holly St. property near Maritime Heritage Park. That property near Whatcom Creek was once occupied by Sash & Door, a lumberyard and hardware store. Parberry’s would have to pay fair market value for the property.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Bellingham City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28. The deal would still need to be approved by the City Council, something that could happen in February.
A long time coming
A remaking of this portion of Old Town has been discussed by the Parberry family for a long time. In 2008, plans were developed but put on hold, in part because of the economic recession, said Kevin Moore, CEO of Northwest Recycling.
Moore said they plan on providing more details about how they intend to redevelop the area later this year, if the city approves the development agreement. Generally speaking, the company shares the city’s vision of creating a mixed-use area where people can live and work, Moore said. Being near the waterfront provides plenty of attractive residential possibilities, he said.
Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville said in an interview Tuesday that she supports the development agreement. She noted that the Parberry family has contributed a lot to community over the decades, much of which was done anonymously.
“This transformation in Old Town will be the most recent example of the Parberry family’s investment in our community,” Linville said in a news release.
Parberry’s Inc. is interested in acquiring the former Sash & Door property because it would fit well in the overall redevelopment plan, Moore said. They want to use the property to create a good first impression as people enter the Old Town district from downtown.
Being near Whatcom Creek and on top of a former landfill does make the site complicated to redevelop, but the potential is there, Moore said.
Meanwhile, Northwest Recycling is looking for a property that’s in a five-mile radius of the current site, Moore said. What’s important is that the new site would not disrupt Sanitary Service Company truck service, which is a key component of the business.
Even if the development agreement is approved by the city, it will take time to redevelop Old Town.
Moore said they expect to take about two years to first find property and then relocate Northwest Recycling. Redevelopment of the properties would happen in stages, depending on market demand. He would expect the brick building at 700 W. Holly St., formerly home to Pacific Marine Exchange & Gallery, to be one of the first properties redeveloped.
The city has posted the proposed development agreement as well as many other details at cob.org/oldtown.