Battle Heats Up Over Kimberly-Clark Site: Partnership Wants To Buy – Port Wants To Condemn

May 23, 2019

Everett Economy

It could be a brawl in court before anything happens at the former pulp mill site on the Everett waterfront.

Today it was a battle of the press releases as interest at the Kimberly-Clark site on the working waterfront in Everett, Washington heats up.

First here’s a press release from a Seattle public relations firm announcing a plan for a partnership to buy the site and invest up to $100 million dollars.

A new partnership has agreed to develop a new maritime commercial park that will bring as many as 1,200 jobs back to the Everett waterfront. The plans include the development of a cold storage warehouse, a production hub for value-added resale and food products, as well as additional warehouse and office space that will revitalize a key piece of Everett’s industrial waterfront, which has stood empty for more than six years.

The deal, in which Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Company will buy 58-acres of the Kimberly-Clark mill site on Everett’s waterfront, calls for both companies to move their corporate headquarters and operations to Everett, bringing back family-wage jobs to a site that had been a foundation of the community’s economic life for decades.

“The combination of a deep-water port, prime industrial land, multimodal freight corridors, and a well-trained workforce makes Everett the perfect place to build a new home for the Pacific Northwest seafood industry,” Pacific Stevedoring Owner Andrew Murphy and Glacier Fish Co. President Jim Johnson said in a joint statement. “We plan to invest in this community and look forward to partnering with the city to bring family-wage jobs back to Everett’s waterfront.”

The companies are pursuing a vision that will transform the site into a regional asset for maritime commerce, making an initial investment of $100 million to:

  • Develop and operate a 200,000 sq. ft. cold-storage and warehouse facility;
  • Build a new working wharf to accommodate a commercial fishing fleet and other vessels;
  • Improve on-site interconnections to trucking and rail lines;
  • Develop new warehouses and office spaces to attract light-industrial manufacturing and services in support of maritime operations.

    These plans will give Everett’s waterfront a competitive advantage in courting businesses and commercial activity throughout the maritime industry, including: luring the region’s largest seafood companies, the further expansion of value-added seafood product operations, and attracting increased refrigerated maritime commerce. The private ownership group will also contribute significant revenue to the City of Everett, with property taxes of nearly $1 million per year, and another $850,000 in sales tax revenue during construction and development.

    The Kimberly-Clark property has a rare value given its waterfront industrial zoning within a growing urban core. In an effort to achieve the highest and best use of the property, the new ownership group stands ready to work with local jurisdictions, such as the City of Everett and Port of Everett to maximize the region’s economic vitality and stability.

    Upon completion of the deal, Kimberly-Clark can proceed with environmental clean-up efforts approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Meanwhile, the ownership group will continue to work through the necessary project permitting process, with the goal of beginning construction within 12 months of closing.

    “We appreciate the work of numerous officials who helped to form this agreement,” said Lisa Morden, Kimberly-Clark Vice President. “For nearly 100 years, Kimberly-Clark had a presence in this city, and through this agreement with the Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Co. ownership group, we can help ensure that the next generation of jobs can return to the site.”

    About Pacific Stevedoring

    Pacific Stevedoring is a wholly-owned subsidiary of North American Stevedoring, with operations in Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Bayside, Canada; Washington state; and Galveston, Texas. The company brings a reputation for excellence throughout the fishing and shipping industries and maintains a dedicated and skilled workforce to accommodate all aspects of cargo handling and terminal operations. At full capacity, Pacific Stevedoring intends hire 150 employees for their operations in Everett.

    About Glacier Fish Company

    Glacier Fish Co. was founded in 1982 as one of the pioneers in the Alaska groundfish fisheries. The company owns and operates a fleet of catcher/processor vessels that catch, process, and freeze groundfish in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and off the coast of Washington and Oregon. Glacier has more than 700 employees on its vessels, in its offices, and in support of its fleet.

    Not so fast says the Port of Everett who had earlier announced a vote has been scheduled June 4th to acquire the property through a condemnation process:

    Today’s announcement by Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish does not change the Port administration’s intent to hold a public meeting on June 4 for our Port Commission to consider eminent domain on the vacant Kimberly-Clark property.

    The Port administration can’t speak for our Commission; however, the administration is skeptical of the private party’s ability to put the site back into productive use, as evidenced by its lack of job creation with its lease. The Port has been consistent since the mill closed that our top priorities were to restore the jobs lost because of the mill closure, support maritime job growth on the site, and ensure the ongoing success of our international trade facilities and Naval Station Everett. Our priorities have not changed.

    The investor group has not disclosed the identity of the investors, which calls into question whether foreign direct investment is involved, which could potentially prevent this transaction from moving forward. Further, the investor group has not demonstrated that the proposed use is allowable under current zoning codes for the site, as fish processing is explicitly prohibited.

    The Port has a proven and reliable track record of putting former contaminated mill sites back into productive use with our patient capital; and our offer still stands to meet with the private party and discuss their proposed use, and how it may align with the Port’s public use of the property.

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