The Opportunity Zone program is a federal statute within the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act that enables investors facing capital gain liabilities to receive favorable tax treatment when investing in these designated areas. For more information, contact your financial advisor or visit the Washington State Department of Commerce Opportunity Zone webpage.
Portions of Bellingham's downtown and waterfront, the Samish Way urban village, and the nearby Lummi Nation have all been designated Opportunity Zones. Investments in these areas qualify for substantial tax incentives under this new federal program.
The following presentations were given at a forum hosted by the Port of Bellingham, City of Bellingham, Whatcom County Foundation and Lummi Nation on March 12, 2019.
With over 7,500 employees and 2,500 residents, downtown Bellingham is experiencing a renaissance of investment and activity. A lively arts scene, historic buildings, community events and activities, and a multitude of dining and entertainment options showcase that downtown can provide big city amenities while retaining its small-town charm and conveniences. Strategic public and private investments continue to strengthen this district's role as the cultural and economic center of Whatcom County.
As the gateway to Western Washington University, this district is beginning to evolve into the dense mixed-use neighborhood envisioned in the Samish Way urban village plan, which was developed with encouragement from the nearby historic neighborhoods who recognized the potential for the area to shift drastically from its auto-oriented highway beginnings. With easy access to I-5, WWU and downtown (and a 180-acre forest preserve as a backdrop), this area is positioned to become a new Bellingham hub. Numerous public investments in redevelopment and public infrastructure are underway, including a planned retrofit of the Samish Way traffic corridor.
An extension of downtown, the Waterfront District is the long-awaited dream of a community eager to reconnect to the saltwater shoreline. A former paper and pulp mill, the site has since been remediated and is ready to develop into a mixed-use neighborhood, anchored by historic buildings and artifacts providing an unique character and sense of place. Recently opened parks and road offer a glimpse of what is to come, with the opening of the granary marketplace and new residential uses following closely behind.