The Port of Everett sailed into 2020 on a high note after completing several key projects in 2019 and launching a string of others that include bolstering shipping activities, increasing public amenities, and driving more economic development in the region.

The following port roundup summarizes some of the key projects, highlighted from south to north, as shared by Catherine Soper, public affairs manager for the port. From Naval Station Everett south is what Soper referred to as the working waterfront, which includes the international seaport and Navy base.

“That area is essentially our workhorse of the waterfront,” Soper said. “This is where national and international commerce happens. This is really where the jobs are created — the bulk of jobs, about 34,000 jobs of all port operations, is supported by that area.”

From the naval base north is the destination waterfront, which includes a new hotel, planned housing, the marina, and more.

The port, created in 1918 to promote shipping, trade, and timber industries, is located on Gardner Bay at the mouth of the Snohomish River, and operates three lines of business: international shipping terminals, marina facilities, and real estate development. The port generates $4.3 billion annually in economic benefit through its cargo, marina, and property businesses, according to the port’s 2020 Strategic Plan adopted in December.

The port operates eight shipping berths and specializes in high-value and heavy cargoes, such as transformers, forest products, energy, and farm equipment. “The seaport is a vital link for the aerospace industry, handling all of the oversized parts of the Boeing 747, 767 (commercial and military), 777 and 777X airplane production lines,” according to the port’s 2020 citizen budget guide. 

South Terminal Modernization Project

A $57 million project to retrofit and strengthen the wharf at the port’s south terminal, and support modern ship and cargo operations, was largely completed in December. The wharf now can support 1,000 pounds per square foot, twice its original capacity, Soper said, noting the first ship to arrive at the strengthened wharf offloaded 889 metric tons of steel for the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center, located in Seattle. 

The port handles oversize aerospace parts that are shipped in, and the work will continue to support aerospace logistics and other cargo opportunities, including military cargo. The port also received two new gantry cranes for the terminal in 2019 that will increase hoisting capacity beyond the mobile cranes now used. The new cranes are being retrofitted, and the port hopes to have them operating dockside about midyear to fall, Soper said. Installing the cranes will complete the South Terminal project.

Key Designation

The port in 2019 earned a short sea shipping designation, which it said will help reduce congestion on Interstate 5 by making the port eligible for future federal grants for infrastructure or equipment to enhance its ability to expand barge service along the Puget Sound marine corridor, according to a port summary.

The port offers barge service from its shipping terminals in Everett to the Mount Baker Terminal (near south Everett on the Mukilteo border), where aerospace parts are put on rail for final delivery, but the new designation will allow the port to ship nonaerospace containerized freight via barge from Everett to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, removing as many as 300 containers per month from the I-5 corridor, according to the port, which said the I-5 corridor through Everett leads the nation in traffic congestion.

Acquisition of Former Kimberly-Clark Mill Site

The port in October approved spending $33 million to acquire 58 acres of the former mill site for maritime development and 19 acres of tidelands north of the port’s boat launch for river management and public access. Kimberly-Clark will conduct upland cleanup work and remove crushed materials on the site, and the port will provide clean fill material as backfill, with cleanup completed this year, according to an earlier port news release.

The port hopes to launch maritime cargo use of the site by the end of 2021. The site has been vacant since 2012.

Marina Improvements

Moving north of the naval base, the port’s marina — which the port said is the largest public marina on the West Coast, with 2,300 slips in the marina’s South, Central, and North docks and a 13-lane boat launch — is in the fourth and final phase of a $30 million upgrade. The final phase includes redoing the Central G dock and consolidating boathouses, plus marina dredging. Completed phases include a new guest dock by the new Hotel Indigo, and renovated fishing pier at Seiner Wharf, where commercial fishing vessels line the dock.

Since the early 2000s, the Port of Everett has invested more than $165 million into its destination waterfront, including its multimillion-dollar effort to strategically recapitalize its marina facilities, clean up historic contamination from years of waterfront industry, and work toward the full buildout of its 65-acre Waterfront Place mixed-use development in the central marina area. 

Hotel Indigo

The new 142-room Hotel Indigo was among projects completed last year in the marina, part of the new public-private Fisherman’s Harbor development phase of Waterfront Place. The roughly $37 million waterfront hotel, which includes the Jetty Bar & Grille, opened in October, and owner Omar Lee is excited by the hotel’s prospects as a business and leisure destination in the strong South Snohomish County economy.

“In the long term, I’m very bullish on that site and in that community there,” said Lee, who contracted with Seattle-based Columbia Hospitality to manage the hotel. Columbia also manages his Tukwila-based Hotel Interurban, a combination hotel and apartment facility that opened in 2018. 

Lee was attracted to build at the Port of Everett for the opportunity to open a Puget Sound waterfront hotel. The hotel has about 7,000 square feet of meeting space, in addition to its waterfront restaurant and bar.

While the hotel’s opening missed the 2019 summer season, resulting in a slower launch, he’s optimistic for the future. 

Waterfront Place Apartments

Work is underway on 266 apartments at Fisherman’s Harbor at Waterfront Place, next to Hotel Indigo. The Waterfront Place Apartments, ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms, will be part of two buildings, the first of which is expected to open in spring 2021, and the second in summer 2021, Soper said.

Developed by SeaLevel Properties + Gracorp, the project brings housing to the waterfront for the first time in Everett’s history, according to the port.

Restaurant and retail sites also are anticipated in the Fisherman’s Harbor development in 2021, Soper said.

Other developments in 2019 included new public access at Waterfront Place, including Pacific Rim Plaza and splash fountain, the Fisherman’s Harbor esplanade, Guest Dock 5, and Central K-Dock, the port said.

Grand Avenue Park Bridge

The City of Everett pedestrian bridge, which connects Everett’s downtown to the waterfront, is scheduled for completion in spring 2020. Spanning 283 feet and costing $20 million, it also doubles as a utility corridor, supporting storm and sewer pipes under the walkway. The bridge spans the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway tracks and West Marine View Drive, connecting to the waterfront at the border of the South Marina at Waterfront Place.

Future Housing and Office Space

While the first phase of Waterfront Place housing is underway, the second phase is anticipated to add about 350 housing units. Requests for proposals for that housing will go out later this year or next, Soper said. Waterfront Place allows for up to 660 residential units.

The phase also includes a 9,000-square-foot double restaurant concept; potentially 25,000 square feet of office space; and an amphitheater at Boxcar Park, located on the west side of the historic Weyerhaeuser Building, Soper said.

Phase three includes the middle section of the Waterfront Place development, which includes additional office, retail, and institutional use, and the potential for more housing, with full buildout of the site in about five years. 

In total, Waterfront Place calls for up to 10 restaurants, government services, and 662,000 square feet of office and retail space, according to the port’s strategic plan.

Riverside Business Park

To the northeast, on the Snohomish River, the port last year dedicated 1.4 miles of new waterfront trails and several viewpoints along its Riverside Business Park, where tenants include Amazon, FedEx, and Safran aerospace company.

Agreement with Marysville and Arlington

The port is collaborating with the cities of Marysville and Arlington to develop the Cascade Industrial Center (CIC), which overlaps both cities (57 percent in Arlington, 43 percent in Marysville) to bring new economic opportunity, jobs, and an expanded tax base to greater Snohomish County and the region, according to a port news release. 

The port has special tools available for economic development that it can share with the cities to help develop the 4,019-acre CIC along Interstate 5, Soper said.

Nearly 1,762 acres, or about 44 percent of the land, is available for development, including partially used sites, sites that can be redeveloped, and vacant sites, according to a CIC FAQ sheet. Businesses in the CIC currently have more than 8,000 jobs. The area is projected to have 25,000 jobs by 2040. 

“We’re supporting that effort with marketing and deal-making, and permitting, and we have the potential to expand our foreign trade zone into that area, if that’s an option,” Soper said.

The cities and port create a nexus, with the port serving as a shipping partner, trade partner, and economic development partner, she said.