Marc Stiles, April 8, 2015, Puget Sound Business Journal
The Port of Seattle is gearing up to once again take a shot at redeveloping a big chunk of land near Expedia’s future headquarters, but the project will be focused on the maritime industry, not the tech industry, a port official said Wednesday.
Buildings totaling nearly 840,000 square feet dot the sprawling parcel under the Magnolia Bridge. It’s just north of the Terminal 91 where, starting next month, many of the port’s nearly 900,000 cruise ship passengers will board Alaska-bound vessels. Joe McWilliams, the port’s real estate director, said about 50 of the property’s 75 acres could be redeveloped.
With Seattle’s economic expansion, now is the right time to put the T-91 uplands “back in service,” McWilliams said.
Eleven years ago the port looked at turning the uplands into a neighborhood where consultants projected that up to 13,500 people would work in life-science research facilities and industrial and office buildings up to 100 feet tall. There was even talk about having residences in the project that the port called North Bay, but the port backed off when City Council members said they wouldn’t allow that.
The North Bay proposal eventually faded, with the life-science industry clustering in Seattle’s South Lake Union area. Korry Electronics, a division of Esterline Corp. (NYSE: ESL) which makes cockpit control displays for Boeing (NYSE: BA), looked at moving to T-91 but moved in 2009 to Snohomish County instead.
Now 4,500 jobs are coming to the neighborhood with Expedia’s (Nasdaq: EXPE) decision to move in. Along with that comes the need for more housing close to the 40-acre campus.
But don’t expect that at T-91. The property is an industrial zone, where housing is not permitted.
McWilliams said the port’s preference would be to have private developers build projects that would support the maritime industry, if that’s what the market would support.
The port plans to offer up the property to third-party developers, probably in the next few months when it may issue a request for proposals.
“The logical development scenario is probably three or four [development] pads that total around 50 acres,” McWilliams said.
Several companies already operate at T-91 and will continue to do so even if the port proceeds with its redevelopment plan. Tenants include Cruise Terminals of America and Trident Seafoods, which have long-term leases. Commercial fishing companies store gear for the factory trawler fleet and sometimes truck companies use part of the site to train drivers.