There is more to Everett than what you can see from I-5, and it’s probably not what you think.
Blessed with large pieces of open land, the Everett waterfront was ripe for development. Despite the Great Recession, the City of Everett, local authorities, and developers began planning and implementing a major overhaul of the working waterfront. Transforming the area from muddy fields and a quiet marina to a destination for boaters and families with a true community feel for residents may be a huge task, but the Port of Everett and its partners are embracing the challenge.
Waterfront Place, the project is taking shape as a massive mixed use property with hotels, apartments, shopping, dining, and a job center. With such a massive scale, the process could take five years or more to complete. Along with the buildings, there will be many public features built into the project including enhanced roads, trails, and waterfront walkways, parks and green spaces for people to enjoy.
Phase Two of the project–currently under construction–will bring a large hotel, though the details are still being worked out. Substantial parking above and below ground will be included along with retail.
Port of the Past
Even with the relatively small amount of construction that has taken place to date, the history of the Port and the Everett community is a large part of the planning process as the development unfolds. Part of the plan included the recent relocation and re-dedication of the historic Weyerhaeuser Mansion. This iconic building, built in 1923, has seen many things during its time, including several moves. Now as part of the National Register of Historic Places, the building has found its final place to serve the public on the edge of Boxcar Park. When renovations are complete, the Port plans to use the building as a marina clubhouse and an outdoor performance venue.
The newly remodeled Waterfront Center also features a nod to history with a display detailing the working history of the Port. Home to the Everett Marina office, along with Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, Bluewater Distilling, and other retailers. Waterfront Center is also home to many marine services companies and the marina offices.
While recognizing the past, the Port is also looking toward the future. Many cities have found that building live work, play areas can bring successful energized youth to a community. With this in mind, the Port is partnering with American Classic Homes to build a 254-unit apartment building. The Mercer Island-based home builder will be starting construction on the project starting in late 2017.
What’s Down at the Waterfront
Tucked away behind Jetty Island to the west, Everett Marina does not look the largest public marina on the West Coast of the United States, but with 2,300 slips it is. The marina has long provided visiting boaters and the fishing fleet with exceptional docks and boat services, but may have lacked a little bit in entertainment, food, and other traveler necessities.
“People will ask, ‘what do you have to offer?’ We want to have a nice mix; a destination. We are kind of a nice stop-off before people get to the San Juans,” notes Port of Everett Marina Director Jeff Lindhout. “We don’t want to be just a stop-off. We want people to come here, stay, know that there are things to do and things to see.”
It seems that with the new development the marina and the city will be able to merge and offer a space for people to live and work. To a boater looking for a fun place to visit, the growth of retail, and outdoor opportunities are making the Everett Marina a destination for more than just a place to moor.
Aside from creating a waterfront destination for boaters and travelers on the I-5 corridor, there also one tiny issue hindering transforming the Everett waterfront into a place locals will frequent: The bulk of the city is separated from the waterfront by a large bluff and a very busy railway line, limiting access to the port.
Connecting to the Waterfront
Several years ago, the City decided to develop a way to access the marina, while at the same time preventing homes built on the bluff from succumbing to the forces of erosion. A simple, yet elegant, plan was formed. Starting in 2017, a pedestrian walkway will connect Grand Street to the central part of the marina.
Incorporated into the walkway plan are pipes and other mechanical equipment to help keep runoff away from the sensitive hillside. Post-construction, residents of the neighborhoods who have overlooked the marina and port for decades will be able to safely access the new retail and dining opportunities that the port will soon be offering without needing to hop in a car.
Incorporated into the walkway plan are pipes and other mechanical equipment to help keep runoff off away from the sensitive hillside. Post-construction, residents of the neighborhoods who have overlooked the marina and port for decades will be able to safely access the new retail and dining opportunities that the port will soon be offering without needing to hop in a car.
Eat, Drink, and Stay
Though it will be several more years until the project will be complete, Waterfront Place already includes a few local places to grab a bite or a drink including the Scuttlebutt Brewery, Bluewater Distilling, and Anthony’s Homeport. The Everett Farmers Market occupies Boxcar Park on Sundays, mid-May through mid-October.
With all there is to experience now at the waterfront (including miles of trails, the Sail-In Movie series, and a summer concert series), it is not hard to imagine heading to Everett for a day trip or to moor for the afternoon.
“We are working really hard on creating a destination, providing a place where people can feel like they are at the water even though they may not be able to get in the water,” notes Lisa Lafeber, Port of Everett communications director.
“A lot of people don’t associate Everett and a recreational waterfront. This development is going to be a game-changer for Everett. We have a very beautiful waterfront…but you can’t see that from the freeway. A lot of folks may stop in Everett to get gas, but they don’t necessarily make the trek down to the waterfront. The Port is trying to make a balanced waterfront where we have the working waterfront and the recreation,” Lefeber adds.
No matter what, the Port seems to be embracing its past while at the same time creating a future that the community can embrace
What To Do @ Waterfront Place:
- Shope the Everett Famers Market (starting May 14)
- Explore Jetty Island: the free ferry runs July 5-Labor Day
- Stand-up paddle board
- Walk miles of trails; check out the construction and watch sea lions feast on the fishermens’ catch
- Pop in for Sail-In Cinema
- Check out the summer concert series
- Jetty Island Days (July)
- Port tours
- Grab a drink and a bite (Bluewater, Scuttlebutt, other restaurants)