MUKILTEO, Wash., November 2, 2023—The Port of Everett and Mukilteo city staff held an open house at Rosehill Community Center, Wednesday, November 1, to update the public on the latest happenings with waterfront development planning and offer the chance to weigh in on early artist renderings showcasing what the future of the Mukilteo waterfront could have in store.
The Community Center’s Point Elliot Room was set up with presentations, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., meant to provide the community with visuals that reflect the vision adopted late last year by the Port Commission and Mukilteo City Council, following community input, council feedback, and stakeholder engagement. The renderings displayed were still preliminary in nature, the Port was sure to clarify.
“Typically, we don’t do conceptual [renderings] before we have a plan, but we wanted to build excitement and show [residents] what the opportunity is and what’s possible,” Lisa Lefeber, Port of Everett CEO, told the Lynnwood Times. “By doing that it gives people a vision and helps people be able to comment and say what they like and what their suggestions are. Once the partnership agreement with the city is formalized, we will move in to actually doing the plan and the entitlements.”
Lefeber added that all of the community feedback gathered at the open house event will be collected, stored, and used to influence whatever planning is developed.
The Port has also been working really closely with local tribes, as part of a working group set up. The tribes have been extremely hospitable through the entire process, Lefeber noted, so it’s important to the Port to include that hospitality as well as local tribal culture.
The event also offered the chance to connect with Port and City representatives to ask questions or contribute their feedback and ideas.
The Port and City held a similar open house event in May of last year. A common theme gathered from community feedback at that open house, and subsequent community survey, taught the Port that residents want a vibrant waterfront with access to the water, walking trails, dining, culture, and a place to enjoy the magnificent views of the sea, islands, and mountains.
The latest update to the process since that open house event is an environmental review was conducted, which is required whenever there is a transfer of federal land. The Port hopes that the property will complete its transfer by next year, Lefeber informed the Lynnwood Times.
What used to be an old Navy base was transferred to the Port of Everett in 2000 thanks to legislation passed that year. In 2001 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA) decided they wanted to build a new research facility on that 1.1 acres of land. The legislation was then amended to grant NOA the 1.1 acres so they could build their facility. However, there was a provision in the amendment that stated if NOA did not build the facility the land would be transferred to the Port.
As the Port and City negotiating committees work toward finalizing a formal partnership structure to move development forward, it’s important to continue engaging with waterfront stakeholders to ensure the visual concepts presented meet the mark, the Port said.
The open house had approximately 100 attendees throughout the evening.
“It was a great turnout,” Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine told the Lynnwood Times. “What I really liked this time is we have the drawings that people can see and talk about because I think it’s really hard to have a blank sheet and ask ‘what do you want to see?’ People know what they like and what they don’t like when they can see something. I think we’re going to get a lot of great feedback this time.”
About the Waterfront redevelopment
The Mukilteo Waterfront is unique in that it has 11 property owners, over 26 acres, 70% of which is still undeveloped. Besides private owners, the major stakeholders include the Port of Everett, the City of Mukilteo, and the State of Washington.
A complicated history with governmental use and ownership transfers have delayed development for nearly two decades until 2013 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cancelled their plans to build a new $40 million facility on the waterfront, leaving ownership to the Port of Everett.
On January 4, 2016, the City Council adopted the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. The plan describes a revitalized downtown waterfront which includes local businesses, a looped pedestrian promenade, bike lanes and playful waterfront uses. The goal is for residents and visitors to experience a natural shoreline while celebrating the past, present and future of the Mukilteo waterfront. It incorporates the changes regarding the location of the ferry and ferry loading areas, while also enhancing pedestrian mobility.
The Port of Everett hired NBBJ, a Seattle architecture, planning and design firm, to help with this process and visioning planning through 2022, and formed a stakeholder workgroup that represents the varied interests and attractions at the waterfront; this group was intentionally a small group representing the broad interests of the waterfront.
This stakeholder’s group has already had three workgroup sessions to discuss current waterfront opportunities and constraints, vision for its future, and important principles for which future planning and discussions should be centered and interviewed Mukilteo City Council members to gather feedback, developing a draft vision statement and draft set of guiding principles.
“When you get 21,000 residents trying to craft a vision and guiding principles in one room you don’t get anywhere,” Lisa Lefeber, CEO for the Port of Everett, said. “What we’ve learned is if you gather a group of various stakeholders who essentially are the ones who are responsible for taking in all that feedback and making sure what comes out the other end matches and reflects the comments we receive, it’s more efficient and everyone has an opportunity to have input.”
The Waterfront’s draft vision statement states: The Mukilteo Waterfront is filled with adventure, culture and economic opportunities for the community and region. It is an equitable, and convenient gathering place, which offers a sustainable mix of uses for year-round enjoyment and promotes access to the beach and wonders of the Salish Sea.
Through these conversations it was determined the waterfront needs to be “authentically Mukilteo”, have “thoughtful parking”, pedestrian friendly, environmentally responsible and sustainably minded, celebrate culture, education focused, a transportation hub, have boating and shoreline access, and be a year-round destination.
To learn more about the Mukilteo Waterfront Redevelopment Project to date click here.