BY ELLEN HIATT
Photos by Kyle Evans – Evans Creative
The energy at the Port of Everett is bubbling over with potential – realized and future. A 65-acre redevelopment dubbed Waterfront Place will inevitably have a tremendous impact on the local economy, but also will bring an ease to living, a gift of connection with the waterfront, and, combined with other projects, a decided contribution to the environment.
The Port’s Communications and Marketing Director, Catherine Soper, said they like to call the feeling there “Sophistigritty.”
The working waterfront of Everett has always been a rough and tumble place, where shingle operators of the early 1900s raised four of their remaining fingers on a hand to order a beer at the bar, and Yugoslavian fishermen traded stories while their purse seiners bobbed at moorage and fishing nets were made whole again.
That history is not lost on the Port as they move deftly into the second quarter of the 21st Century.
As the “new” comes in – a new way of life, a new understanding of our impact on the environment, and a new era in shipping unfolds – the Port of Everett is taking it on with gusto while honoring the past.
“The big vision is a place to eat, drink, sleep, work, and recreate,” Soper said, adding that with the realization of the Waterfront Place Apartments, that is already happening.
But there is more to come. So much more. It will be another 10 years for the full build out, Soper said. By then, Cape Cod will have nothing on the Everett Marina.
The development of Waterfront Place, a once heavily-industrial property with lumber and shingle mills, will be transformed with another 1.5 million square feet of mixed use development. A modern community, with housing, a hotel, restaurants and cafes, and places of work, is taking shape. Beginning at Marine Drive, it is marching toward the waterfront with infrastructure and carefully calculated timing.
An afternoon spent dining at the Indigo Hotel’s highly-rated Jetty Bar and Grille with a cocktail in hand, is a fine respite for any day. In the marina, the yachts are tied to their mooring, the resident seals are slipping in and out of the water, and the seagulls are making their demands known. A visitor can see the construction of Fisherman Jack’s Restaurant, next to South Fork Bakery, which both open this summer. Next door, a specialty ice cream shop, spa and a wine bar will soon give you little reason to move on as you sit atop the balcony taking it all in.
Already bustling are the residents of the nearby apartments, who are walking the boardwalk in front of Central Marina’s yacht moorage, and kicking up their heels in the Pacific Rim Plaza’s splash fountain. The plaza is the center of Fisherman’s Harbor, the Port’s first public/private development in the plan.
All this is happening every day of the week now, Soper said.
“The energy here is ‘Thursday’ energy,” she said. “People are here no matter what day or time of the week it is – and you can just feel that energy building as new amenities are added.”
The property contains three marinas: North (next to the Jetty Landing Boat Launch and Jetty Island access at 10th Street); Central (where Fisherman’s Harbor, Pacific Rim Plaza, Restaurant Row and the yacht moorage are); and South (which abuts Naval Station Everett, and is home to long-time restaurants Anthony’s HomePort, Woodfire Grill and Lombardi’s).
The Millwright District, on the jut of land between the North and Central Marinas, is in early stages, with infrastructure going in. When it’s finally built out, it will include 60,000 square feet of new retail and approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial office space, and 200 or more residential units. Soper said the office space is envisioned to be satellite offices for some of the region’s largest employers.
SPEAKEASY-INSPIRED WHISKEY BAR
Closer to the waterfront, the historic and beloved Weyerhaeuser Building took a leap ahead of the Millwright District and will find new life this spring. Smack dab on the waterfront, with Boxcar Park between it and Port Gardner Bay, one can hope the structure has found its forever home. Built by the Weyerhaeuser Company as a showcase of its multitude of millwork, it has been moved three times – twice by barge.
Opening this spring, the celebrated structure is finding new life as The Muse, a speakeasy-reminiscent whiskey bar by night, and a coffee bar by day, with spaces for events.
Rachel Escalle, Vice President of Operations for the NGMA Group, the holding company of The Muse and Fisherman’s Jack Restaurant, said the place has a “gentlemen’s club feeling.” It’s a fitting setting for it, with historic woodwork preserved in individual “sitting rooms” that were once spacious offices. The decor is plush, with jewel tones and warm woods, and a 1920s vibe. By day, with daylight coming through the expansive windows, it is a gathering place for friends and family as a coffee bar, with high tea service to possibly come. By night, it becomes a moody and inviting speakeasy-inspired whiskey bar with small bites and an extensive collection of spirits.
“We have post-prohibition, very old whiskeys, including some extremely old whiskeys from the FX McCrory collection, which was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection at one time,” she said.
There will also be a sizable wine offering, with a wine club, as well.
The Port and restaurant operators worked closely with the local historical society and preservationists to ensure the building’s character and historical integrity were maintained, installing safety features, for instance, but keeping the old glass in the windows, and tastefully adding egress stairs.
That history will also be acknowledged throughout, with a historical virtual tour and historic photos lining the walls.
BREWS AND WINES
Near Lombardi’s on Marine Drive, a spring opening of Woods Coffee & Sound 2 Summit Brewing Company is creating a gathering hub for Naval Station Everett and neighbors who walk across the Grand Avenue Park Bridge.
Lazy Boy Brewing is on tap to go up next beside the bridge landing, and the Port continues to seek a year-round fish market for the location.
In time, the Port will complete the full, 65-acre build out by adding destination retail and park spaces, and a wine- centric experience. Move your way toward the waterfront, and you’ll see the new home of the Everett Yacht Club in the fully renovated marina offices location. The walkway along the South Marina is envisioned to become a wine walk, with destination retail and pocket parks.
But don’t wait for the final build out. The waterfront is already the place to be.
Rent a kayak, enjoy some baked goods and coffee with a friend for a morning catch-up, stroll the waterfront like it’s your “Thursday” at the Marina.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that every inch of dirt on the working waterfront of Everett has been turned over, examined, removed and replaced for a new era of environmental sustainability. The new Norton Terminal was built on the former Kimberly-Clark mill site, with the removal of heavy metals like arsenic and lead, and petroleum products. It was replaced with 200,000 cubic yards of clean Snohomish estuary sand, and capped with asphalt, eliminating stormwater infiltration.
“Nationally, wetlands are on the decline. I would say in Snohomish County, wetlands must be on the incline because of these projects.”
As Waterfront Place has been developed, contaminated soil has been removed. The “gritty” part of the Port’s history left a legacy of contamination from its industrial issues. Environmental cleanup has been ongoing and is a part of every development project.
And north of the Snohomish River, a restoration project is underway, dwarfing all of the waterfront environmental projects combined.
Blue Heron Slough, 353 acres of estuary habitat, has been restored. The estuary is critical to salmon recovery, water quality, flood protection and bird habitat. Add to that the incredible benefit of carbon sequestration.
“WWU (Western Washington University) and Earth Corps determined these projects, especially in the Snohomish estuary where the study was done, sequester carbon. They trap greenhouse gasses and store them at a higher rate, four to ten times greater than forests do,” said Eric Gerking, Director of Environmental Programs at the Port of Everett.
“What’s cool about it – talk about sustainability! – is the greatest offset of Blue Heron Slough is as a mitigation bank.” Mitigation banks allow development on other sensitive areas to be offset with the purchase of credits for restoration elsewhere. The restoration of a larger estuarine body has higher function, however, than fragmented estuaries. “It’s generating mitigation credits but there’s not people knocking down the door on this thing. From the Port’s perspective, it’s more in the realm of sustainability and to offset future impacts.”
The restoration of the former Biringer berry farm property is part of a larger estuary restoration, including the Qwuloolt and Smith Island Estuary, Union Slough, and Mid-Spencer Island projects done by the Tulalip Tribes, City of Marysville and Snohomish County. Taken together, they add up to nearly 1,200 acres, with more projects to come.
“Nationally, wetlands are on the decline,” Gerking said. “I would say in Snohomish County, wetlands must be on the incline because of these projects.”