If you’ve been following the news in Whatcom County lately, this isn’t the first time you’ve seen or heard the words ‘Bellingham Waterfront Redevelopment.’ There’s a lot of buzz out there on what those words mean and the impact they’ll have on Bellingham. There are a number of viewpoints ranging from wanting the waterfront to remain unchanged to wanting total redevelopment. As a professional in the real estate industry in Bellingham, I’ve been following the evolution of this plan.
The Port and City of Bellingham are in the beginning stages of redeveloping 237 acres on Bellingham’s central waterfront that was once a pulp and tissue manufacturing facility. A master plan has been approved and many of those projects are underway. I have to admit that I think the Port of Bellingham and City of Bellingham are partnering well and doing a fine job of balancing the many interests at stake in this undertaking. The redevelopment will include adaptation or reuse of many iconic structures such as the Granary Building, expanded walking trails, cleanup of contaminated sites, improvements of roads and other infrastructure, an additional park will be added and mixed use properties will pave the way for establishing a new neighborhood, the Waterfront District – while implementing sustainable strategies.
The Port and City of Bellingham are estimating, between the redevelopment projects and establishing a new mixed use neighborhood, there will be thousands of jobs created. While I’m of the belief that growth is inevitable – I like to see controlled growth. Typically, in real estate, growth that is properly planned is positive. A few redevelopments that come to mind are the Gaslamp District in San Diego and the Riverfront in Sacramento. In both redevelopment projects these areas attracted new businesses to the city, providing jobs and retail choices for residents, crime went down significantly and property values in or near the redevelopment areas increased tremendously.
Redevelopment does affect property values – but indirectly. The purpose of redevelopment is to eliminate deteriorated areas by way of clean up and then thoughtfully providing up-to-date public facilities. Once these new conditions are established in redevelopment areas, the value of property generally goes up – because people are willing to pay higher prices in an area with the new amenities.
I was able to live in San Diego when the Gaslamp District was redeveloped. It went from being a rundown and dangerous area to being the hub of downtown San Diego, with many flourishing businesses, that draws people from around the world. I watched the domino effect of revitalization on property values and saw neighborhoods bordering the Gaslamp District change for the better, one by one. The Port and City of Bellingham have carefully planned the Waterfront District’s redevelopment; growth and improvement in Bellingham will happen – and with that, property values will continue to rise.