Marc Stiles, April 30, 2014, Puget Sound Business Journal
A deal to sell Kimberly-Clark’s former waterfront mill in Everett to a shipbuilder has fallen through, the companies announced Wednesday.
Seattle-based Saltchuk had planned on buying the vacant mill property for its subsidiary, Foss Maritime Co., which operates a shipyard and maintains a fleet of tugs and barges in Seattle.
The 66-acre Everett property has sat vacant since Kimberly-Clark closed the mill about two years ago. When announced last fall, Saltchuk’s deal to buy the property seemed certain. Saltchuk said it was moving 250 shipbuilding jobs from a yard near the Ballard Bridge to Everett. The deal was suppose to close this spring.
On Wednesday, Kimberly-Clark and Saltchuck issued a joint statement: “Despite the fact both sides worked diligently, they were unable to agree on the allocation of risks and responsibilities related to certain soil stability, seismic and environmental conditions as they relate to Saltchuk’s proposed use of the property as a shipyard and terminal.”
Saltchuk spokeswoman Emily Reiter said that during her company’s investigation of the site, representatives discovered “some serious concerns about the property.” The two sides worked “very hard” to address these concerns, but could not come to terms on repairing and restoring the site.
Kimberly-Clark spokesman Bob Brand said he does not think the deal’s collapse will diminish the value of the land. Saltchuk’s concerns were related to its desire to dredge and excavate it, he said.
“Those concerns won’t necessarily be pertinent to others,” said Brand, who added the property is “highly marketable” to an industrial user.
Kimberly-Clark hired commercial real estate broker Dave Speers of Kidder Mathews to market the property for sale. Brand declined to provide the asking price. No sale offers are pending. Speers is “putting it back out [on the market] now.”
Foss employs more than 600 people in Washington and 1,600 companywide. Reiter said the company has outgrown the Seattle shipyard upstream from the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Foss can’t work on vessels that are too big to pass through the locks, she added.
Reiter said Foss was looking up and down the West Coast of the United States for a yard with deepwater access when it learned of the mill site. Now, she said, “the plan is to stay where we are and continue to look for the right opportunity.”