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June 7, 2019

Port of Everett condemns Kimberly-Clark mill site

Image courtesy of Kidder Mathews [enlarge]
Kimberly-Clark operated its mill on the Everett waterfront until 2012. It was demolished after this photo was taken.

Port of Everett commissioners this week voted to authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire up to 67 vacant acres that used to house Kimberly-Clark's mill operations at 2600 Federal Ave. in Everett.

According to a port news release, commissioners believed it was in the best public interest to maintain the deep-water port in public ownership to support maritime commerce, economic development, international trade, the Department of Defense and other branches of the U.S. government.

Kimberly-Clark took no position on the proposed action in a statement read into the record, according to the port.

A port spokeswoman said the site is challenging due to contamination and other issues that include an unpermitted landfill created from crumbled buildings that used to be on the site. A city of Everett document indicates there are 120,000 cubic yards of demolition rubble on the site.

“The urban deep-water port is a key public facility that should be open to all types of commerce,” said port commissioner Tom Stiger in a statement. “This property is a prime example why the Washington state Legislature created the Port Districts Act in 1911. The creation of this act, and the Port (of Everett) a few short years later was a reaction to the private domination of docks and harbors that were critical to the trade-dependent state's economy.”

The mill employed 700 until its closure in 2012.

Saltchuk had a deal in the works in late 2013 to buy the site but backed out shortly afterward, when it was unable to agree on how to allocate the risks and responsibilities for soil stability, and seismic and environmental conditions. Saltchuk had planned to move its Foss shipyard there from the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

The spokeswoman said cleanup responsibility stays with Kimberly-Clark. She said the port is talking with Kimberly-Clark, but no timeline has been set for the sale and the value of the site couldn't be disclosed. A port document said it would pay fair market value for the site.

The port would likely fund the purchase with bonds.

The spokeswoman said the site could handle a military-certified shipyard, cargo operations or some other deep-water-related uses. She said the port would like to put an existing warehouse back into use for some type of manufacturing.

The Everett Herald reported that Kimberly-Clark reached an agreement late last month with Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Co. to buy the property and relocate each company's headquarters there. The companies said an initial investment of $100 million would allow them to build out a cold-storage warehouse, food preparation facilities and a working wharf.

The port was against that because it doesn't have deep-water uses.

Port documents indicate that commissioners in 2016 authorized staff to consider using eminent domain to acquire the site.

A port-funded study by The Concord Group showed port ownership of the site would support over 950 direct jobs and an additional 700 indirect and induced jobs.

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