Old Town Urban Village

Old Town

Old Town is a vital link between the Central Business District and the waterfront and has been identified as a future urban village in the Comprehensive Plan, a strategy for accommodating growth. Planning staff engaged with the community beginning in 2007 to develop a plan for Old Town. This planning effort looked at the broader Old Town area which includes parts of the Lettered Streets and Central Business District neighborhoods, and culminated in drafting and adoption of the Old Town Subarea Plan.


Proposed Agreement between the City and Parberry to Redevelop Old Town

Northwest Recycling, Inc. is a waste processing facility that has its beginnings in Old Town.  The business is owned by Parberry, Inc.  In response to the goals and policies of the Old Town Sub-Area Plan, this proposal is to enter into a Development Agreement with Parberry's, Inc. in order to create the conditions necessary to transition the north end of Old Town from a light industrial area to an urban village.  In summary, Northwest Recycling would relocate to a suitable property in (or close to) Bellingham and the City would then invest in the public infrastructure in Old Town necessary to support redevelopment of Parberry properties.  Further, this proposal provides Parberry with the option to purchase certain adjacent city-owned properties.

The City will hold a public hearing on January 28, 2019.

In addition to providing public infrastructure, the City is providing Parberry's an option to purchase city-owned 600 W Holly Street.  While there are no assurances Parberry will purchase this property, the City needs to assume they will at this point in time.  600 W Holly was purchased in part with CDBG funds (about 28% of the total cost.  If we sell the property, we must either have an eligible CDBG activity or return 28% of the proceeds to the City's CDBG program.  Because we do not know what the use might be, the City is making an assumption (for HUD purposes) that we will not have an eligible use and the funds will be returned to our CDBG program for other uses.  A public hearing is required.

The City will hold a public hearing on January 28, 2019.

Old Town Subarea Plan

The Old Town Sub-Area Plan and supporting development regulations were adopted in early 2008. Redevelopment opportunities for Old Town have been the subject of several community planning efforts including the American Institute of Architects Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT), Whatcom Creek Waterfront Action Program, the City Center Master Plan, and the Community Forum on Growth Management.

The Plan is oriented toward encouraging and guiding thoughtful redevelopment consistent with the vision for Old Town by way of the following guiding principles:

  • Provide a policy framework unique to Old Town,
  • Encourage a healthy mix of diverse and eclectic residential and commercial uses,
  • Guide development to encourage a safe, convenient and attractive pedestrian experience,
  • Ensure new development responds to view corridors and landmark buildings,
  • Provide a level of predictability for stakeholders within and outside Old Town, and
  • Encourage redevelopment to occur in Old Town.

Old Town Subarea Plan (8,828K PDF)


Development Standards

BMC 20.35.055 through BMC 20‚Äč.35.085 Old Town Overlay District
BMC 20.25 Design Review

Additional History of Old Town boardwalk art

This public artwork was installed in January of 2009 on four pilings along the Whatcom Creek boardwalk off of Holly Street. Originally part of the public boardwalk construction, the artwork is a series of stacked concrete "rings" that include embedded artifacts representing the history of the site. The artist is Elizabeth Conner of Vashon Island, and the $20,000.00 permanent piece was paid for from the Public Works Solid Waste Fund.