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Redevelopment of Northern State to be Explored

The Port of Skagit has formed a partnership with Skagit County and the City of Sedro-Woolley to explore possibilities for the redevelopment of the former Northern State Hospital campus and grounds, according to an interlocal agreement among the three entities completed Jan. 13.

 The partners pledged to work together to develop a long-term vision for Northern State and, if feasible, acquire full ownership of the property. Under the agreement, they will investigate the nature and condition of Northern State while keeping five goals in foremost in mind:

  • Encourage the private sector to create and sustain jobs at Northern State benefitting all of Skagit County;
  • Continue and promote public recreational use of Northern State;
  • Protect environmentally sensitive areas of Northern State, particularly Hansen Creek;
  • Acknowledge and protect the historic significance of Northern State;
  • Acknowledge and respect the neighboring Upper Skagit Indian Tribal Nation’s interests in Northern State.The first step in the effort is to complete a thorough investigation of the property, including condition assessments, potential environmental liabilities, a feasibility study and more.

 This work is expected to cost about $325,000, to be paid with a combination of local funds contributed by the partners and grant funds. The Port of Skagit has been asked to play a leading role in the planning for Northern State and possibly to serve as landlord if Northern State comes under local ownership.

 Located just east of Sedro-Woolley, Northern State Hospital opened in 1909 to provide high-quality patient care for the mentally ill. The 225-acre hospital campus was a self-sustaining facility that included staff and patient housing, a dedicated reservoir, a lumber mill, quarry, steam plant and gardens. It included meandering pathways through forested areas, manicured reflecting ponds, and expansive views. Eventually, more than 80 structures and architectural ornamentation were built in Spanish Colonial Revival style. The campus abutted about 700 acres of pastoral farmland and livestock operations.

 The hospital closed in 1973, and the agricultural land was subsequently turned over to Skagit County for recreational usage. The state currently owns the hospital campus, which is managed by the state Department of Enterprise Services.

 In 2010, DES expressed interest in surplusing the Northern State property, which is only partially occupied and has declined in condition and structural integrity. Since then, efforts have been under way to bring the entire property – both campus and agricultural land – under single ownership to satisfy community desires for a local redevelopment effort there. State DES Director Chris Liu has hosted two meetings since November to discuss Northern State with local stakeholders.

If you are a reporter seeking information about the Port of Skagit, please call Andrew Entrikin, community outreach administrator, at 360-757-0011 or email