Private companies make deal for former Kimberly-Clark site
EVERETT — A fishery company and a maritime company, in a joint venture, announced May 23 they have a purchase deal for
the former Kimberly-Clark mill site on Everett’s waterfront.
Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Co. propose putting in a cold storage warehouse, a production hub for frozen pollock and other fish, and additional warehouse and office space at the site.
The public Port of Everett, which also wants the site, dismissed the announcement and said it isn’t backing down on plans to attempt to condemn it for its own purposes. The port, in a reaction statement sent to media outlets, cast questions on how feasible the private venture is, and pointed out that the site’s zoning wouldn’t let it be used for fish processing.
The private deal announcement came one week after the port’s board agreed to take steps that can set the condemnation in motion. A required public hearing is on June 4.
The two companies said they are jointly buying 58 acres of the Kimberly-Clark mill site. Both would relocate their headquarters and operations to the site, they said in a joint news release.
The site is 67 acres.
The companies said once the deal is completed, Kimberly-Clark can proceed with environmental clean-up efforts ordered by the state Department of Ecology. The two companies said they’d plan to begin construction within 12 months of the deal closing.
Pacific Stevedoring has leased about 20 acres of the property from Kimberly-Clark since 2017. The lease includes an option to buy that it appears the company is taking up.
The Port of Everett is the rival bidder. The port’s negotiations have not been successful, according to the preambles in the resolution to condemn.
A public hearing on the condemnation is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at the port’s headquarters as a formality before being able to take legal action.
The Port downplayed the news in a reaction statement sent to local media.
The Port administration “is skeptical of the private party’s ability to put the site back into productive use, as evidenced by its lack of job creation with its lease. The Port has been consistent since the mill closed that our top priorities were to restore the jobs lost because of the mill closure, support maritime job growth on the site, and ensure the ongoing success of our international trade facilities and Naval Station Everett. Our priorities have not changed.”
“The investor group has not disclosed the identity of the investors, which calls into question whether foreign direct investment is involved, which could potentially prevent this transaction from moving forward. Further, the investor group has not demonstrated that the proposed use is allowable under current zoning codes for the site, as fish processing is explicitly prohibited,” the Port said through deputy executive director Lisa Lefeber.
In a May 23 opinion letter to the Herald, former Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who has worked in a role for the private joint venture, wrote that the Port’s “attempt to condemn the Kimberly-Clark property is a blatant overreach that is jeopardizing plans to bring jobs back to the waterfront.”
The companies applauded the site in its press release.
“The combination of a deep-water port, prime industrial land, multimodal freight corridors, and a well-trained workforce makes Everett the perfect place to build a new home for the Pacific Northwest seafood industry,” Pacific Stevedoring owner Andrew Murphy and Glacier Fish Co. president Jim Johnson said in a joint statement. “We plan to invest in this community and look forward to partnering with the city to bring family-wage jobs back to Everett’s waterfront.”
“We appreciate the work of numerous officials who helped to form this agreement,” Lisa Morden, a Kimberly-Clark vice president, said in the joint news release. “For nearly 100 years, Kimberly-Clark had a presence in this city, and through this agreement with the Pacific Stevedoring and Glacier Fish Co. ownership group, we can help ensure that the next generation of jobs can return to the site.”
The companies claim the operation would contribute nearly $1 million per year in property taxes, and another $850,000 in sales tax revenue during construction and development.
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