Inspired by the past,
catering to the present
“The smell of smoke, was the smell of money,” said Everett Historian Larry O’Donnell.
Throughout most of the Port of Everett’s 100-year history, the area that now makes up the Port’s emerging destination waterfront – Waterfront Place – was the epicenter for the City’s Milltown industries.
Forest product businesses thrived in Everett and the area quickly became home to The Weyerhaeuser Company’s largest mills, and flourishing pulp and paper production; all of which was fueled by the lumber mills that lined the well-known 14th Street Dock. People came from around the country to join this burgeoning boom of industry.
This area was also home to Everett’s commercial fishing fleet that had established itself in Everett in 1898 with the arrival of a group of families from Yugoslavia, who brought their craft to Everett. As with the mills, in the following years, people from around the U.S. and foreign countries were drawn to the region by stories of plentiful fishing and scenic beauty.
Thousands of people were employed by the industries here, but by the 1960s, Everett’s economy started to diversify with The Boeing Company’s arrival. Over the next 50 years, there was a slow and steady transition as mills came and went, and eventually, disappeared. Commercial fishing and pleasure boating ebbed and flowed. All the while, aerospace companies came and grew.
Historically, ports mirror the economies in which they operate, and it wasn’t long before the Port of Everett’s business portfolio began to shift from forest products to aerospace.
World War II resulted in the Port’s pleasure boat Marina being relocated from the deep-water harbor to what is now Waterfront Place, located on Everett’s shoreline between 10th and 18th Streets and West Marine View Drive. Pleasure boating continued to rise in demand.
These shifts represented the start of gentrifying the light industrial waterfront to support the emergence of a recreational waterfront, while still protecting the critical economic center of the international trade facilities to support aerospace and other cargoes. This working waterfront grew stronger with the arrival of the U.S. Navy in 1994.
Over the next 20 years, the Port cleaned up legacy contamination left behind from years of industry, built new marina facilities, trails and parks, expanded the popular Jetty Island, built new boat launches and worked strategically to improve the overall health of the marine environment.
Today, the Port’s investment in this destination is paying off as it reaches the cusp of reality.
The area is alive and well, offering a vibrant, livable waterfront with diverse amenities.
Construction fencing and heavy equipment lining developments are underway and creating excitement for what’s to come.
This summer, the new 142-room Hotel Indigo opened and developer team, SeaLevel Properties and Gracorp, breaks ground on the city of Everett’s first-ever waterfront housing development. This first phase of housing includes 266 units, but the Port plans to build its waterfront residential out to 660 units in the coming years. Both projects bring new life to the very site that once housed that historic 14th Street Dock lined with mills, while paying tribute to this rich history.
This district within Waterfront Place, aptly named Fisherman’s Harbor, represents the inviting shelter of Everett’s working waterfront and serves as an acknowledgement of the faithful commercial fishing fleet, and the generations of fishing families who have shaped the character and prosperity of this community — and will continue to influence its future.
There is a lot here, with a lot more to come. A place to live, work, play and thrive.
The commercial vessels remaining in Everett’s fleet are moored here along the new Seiner Wharf. Tributes to the mill history are infused into the site with road names like Millwright, Champher and Weaver, job titles held by the millworkers. Visitors are offered a piece of Everett’s culture.
The Inn at Port Gardner and restaurants Lombardi’s Italian, Anthony’s Homeport and Woodfire Grill, Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, Seas the Day Café and Bluewater Distilling all call the Port home. The opening of Hotel Indigo adds the first new restaurant at the site in more than five years with the elegant Jetty Bar and Grille. Additional casual and fine dining restaurants will set up shop here as well.
Commodore Plaza, Boxcar Park and Pacific Rim Plaza are now open, adding to the more than 1,500 acres of waterfront recreation in a neighborhood that boasts beautiful views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges. On a clear day, Mount Baker is visible to the north.
Seals, otters, grey whales and Orcas call Port Gardner Bay home, and on a good day, some of this wildlife can be seen on the Port’s 4-mile waterfront trail system. An impressive view of the entire waterfront can be taken in if you travel on the soon-to-be-placed Grand Avenue Park Bridge that connects the historic north Everett neighborhood to the waterfront for the first time in decades.
A claim to fame typically bringing surprise is that this small but mighty city operates the largest public marina on the West Coast. Home to 2,300 recreational boating slips, the Marina caters to vessels ranging from 20 feet to 150 feet. It includes 10 guest docks for visiting boaters to enjoy the surrounding restaurants, breweries, distillery and seasonal events. The Marina is a great place if you want to stay permanently, stop by for repairs or visit.
A Marine Craftsman District at the Port offers a 75-ton Travelift, a washdown facility, fuel dock, state-of-the-art, environmentally compliant boatyard, on-site repair services and more. The Port operates a 13-lane boat launch — the largest in Washington State — with ample parking and quick access to the Snohomish River and the Puget Sound. Yacht brokerages selling new and used boats around the site and boat shows add to this boating mecca.
There is a lot here with a lot more to come. At full build out, Waterfront Place will further the economic and community benefit being delivered to the area. The destination is expected to support 2,075 new family-wage jobs, while the private developments will bring in $8.6 million annually in state and local taxes; in addition to the temporary construction jobs, sales tax and building permit revenues. It will bring more than $550 million in public-private investment to this maritime city.
With a vision of economic, social and environment, the Port of Everett offers a balanced waterfront that provides residents and visitors a place to live, work, play and thrive at a destination inspired by the past, catering to the present and building a sustainable future. ✦
Port of Everett photo courtesy, Port of Everett