October 6, 2005

Everett charts a new waterfront neighborhood

  • North Marina area will be redeveloped into Port Gardner Wharf at a cost of $300 million.
    Special to the Journal

    Image courtesy of Maritime Trust Co.
    Port Gardner Wharf will be a mix of waterfront condominiums, retail shops, marine businesses and an expanded marina.

    The Port of Everett, already credited with generating 2,000 jobs and a $162 million annual boost to the local economy, is about to launch a $300 million redevelopment of its North Marina area that will create a new residential, retail and maritime neighborhood.

    After five years of studies and development of a master plan, the port expects to begin construction of the first phase of the work this winter. Permitting with the city of Everett is nearly finished.

    "We are now able to begin transforming the North Marina from an underutilized industrial area to a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly waterfront community," said John Mohr, executive director of the Port of Everett.

    The Port Gardner Wharf transformation will turn 65 acres of the port's aging industrial and marine complex into an urban neighborhood with a mix of 500 to 600 condominiums of 800 to 2,800 square feet, low-rise office buildings, restaurants, boutique retail shops, marine businesses, a 1,000-seat amphitheater, acres of parks, bicycle trails and a 1.5-mile-long esplanade surrounding the development.

    "We want to create a neighborhood that works," said Bert Meers, president of Chicago-based Maritime Trust, the project's developer.

    Dennis Erickson of David Evans & Associates' Everett office has been deeply involved in the project's design and master planning. He said the project is a major step forward in the city's urban renewal effort.

    "The North Marina project fulfills a vision the city has had for more than 20 years, a vision to create some kind of community destination on the waterfront that takes full advantage of the magnificent setting there, at the same time making the area even more of a boaters' destination as boating grows in the Northwest," Erickson said.

    Photo by Terry Stephens
    Today the 65-acre North Marina site is home to industrial and marine service businesses, several restaurants and the Inn at Port Gardner.

    Erickson, a former Everett city planner, said the development is the first major public-private venture in the rejuvenation of the city, building on the impetus begun by such downtown urban renewal projects as the Everett Station and the Everett Events Center.

    "This is the best project for the community, the Port of Everett and Maritime Trust," port commission President Jim Shaffer said in early August when the commission approved the development's final master plan.

    Demolition and construction to create Port Gardner Wharf will involve scores of companies and hundreds of workers. Employment payrolls are expected to reach $35 million per year during the six years of development.

    Presently, there are about 443 jobs in boating services, industrial plants and a variety of other businesses in the North Marina area. Companies that don't fit into the new development will need to find new quarters. American Boiler Works, a metal fabrication company that called Everett's waterfront its home for 100 years, has already moved to a 5-acre industrial site in Arlington.

    After the Port Gardner Wharf project is complete, the employment level for the site is expected to climb to 2,254 jobs — including 1,677 in the anticipated office space, 360 in non-marine retail stores, 126 in restaurants and 91 craftsman-type jobs related to boat service and repair.

    The new neighborhood will include 22 acres of marine sales and services, 8 acres of housing, 7.5 acres of retail and professional office space, 7 acres of offices, 1.2 acres of hotels and restaurants, and 7 acres of parks and other public open space. The development is expected to generate $3 million a year for the city from property, leasehold, business and occupation, and sales and use taxes.

    In addition to the North Marina development site, construction crews are preparing to start a $15 million expansion of the Everett Marina. With 2,050 slips for recreational craft up to 50 feet long and berths for 65-foot-long fishing boats, the existing marina on the south side of the Port Gardner Wharf property already is the second largest on the West Coast.

    But market research has convinced the port commission that the Puget Sound area has a severe shortage of moorage for large yachts, boats ranging up to 70 feet long. The expansion will add a 200-slip marina area adjacent to the north side of Port Gardner Wharf and will be able to handle 35- to 70-foot-long yachts for tenants, guests and visitors.


    Terry Stephens is a freelance writer based in Arlington. He can be reached by e-mail at

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