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.
Development 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, the City entered into a Development Agreement with Parberry's, Inc. 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.
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)
BMC 20.35.055 through BMC 20.35.085 Old Town Overlay District
BMC 20.25 Design Review
Additional History of Old Town
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.