The Millworks is a groundbreaking development in Bellingham’s emerging waterfront district
It emerges in the context of waterfront site activation undertaken by the Port of Bellingham over the last three years. The new Waypoint Park, pump track, pop up food and beverage opportunities and events have attracted increasing numbers of people eager to experience the promise of a unique and inclusive waterfront district.
That promise becomes more real with Millworks, which will be constructed in two phases. Phase 1 includes 83 units of workforce and family rental housing, owned and operated by Mercy Housing Northwest, along with a six-classroom early childhood education center run by the YMCA to support around 100 kids. Site cleanup has begun and groundbreaking for the $37 million project begins early 2023.
Phase 2 is anchored by a food campus designed to strengthen our local food economy by helping Whatcom County farmers create value-added products and supply local restaurants. A commercial kitchen will support small business owners like food trucks and catering services, as well as nonprofit food programs such as Meals on Wheels, childcare and other organizations. This phase also includes the WWU Small Business Development Center, a new statewide employee-ownership resource center, co-op office spaces and public gathering and event space.
Thanks to close coordination and collaboration across the private and public sectors, this urgently needed project is fully financed and ready to break ground in late 2022/early 2023 — a year ahead of schedule. Project highlights:
- 83 permanently affordable homes; 45 will be 2- & 3-bedroom units for families
- Serving households at 30%, 50%, and 60% area median income
- 10% units serving families without permanent housing through a referral partnership with
- 20% units serving households with differently abled members
- Onsite residential services with a focus on education
- 6-classroom Early Learning Center operated by the YMCA
Phase 2 emphasizes food security and economic opportunity and resilience, with both food and community components. This includes a regional food hub and business incubator that builds on Whatcom County’s robust food and agriculture economy. The local food campus will add an estimated 150 new jobs, along with workforce training, technical assistance and public gathering space. This phase will continue to prioritize local procurement and high standards of green building and include public gathering and event spaces.
• Food Hub
• Business incubation
• Shared logistics, processing and production facilities
• Co-located offices for food and ag businesses
• Workforce training
• Event space
• Retail food cart and truck vendors
Commerce and Community
• WWU Small Business Development Center
• Statewide Center for Employee Ownership
• Lease and co-op office space for non-profits
• Additional affordable/workforce housing
• And more than a dozen other local partners