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State and Port Sign Agreement to Transfer Former Hospital Property
State and Port Sign Agreement to Transfer Former Hospital Property
Sedro-Woolley, WA– The state of Washington has reached an agreement with the Port of Skagit to transfer real property known as the North Cascades Gateway Center – formerly the Northern State Hospital – to begin development of an innovation and clean technology campus in Sedro-Woolley.
The $5 million, 225-acre acquisition is needed to begin redevelopment of the site, now called the Sedro-Woolley Innovation For Tomorrow Center. The Port estimates redeveloping the property could create between 600 and 1,000 new sustainable, community-wage jobs in the region during the next 10 to 20 years.
The property transfer will take place over time and be done in phases. The first 155-acre parcel is expected to be transferred to the Port before June 30, 2018. The second 70-acre parcel is expected to be transferred before June 30, 2022.
While the hospital ceased operations in 1973, the state continued to own the property, which is managed by the Washington Department of Enterprise Services. The site includes 44 buildings and was listed as an historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
Local partners and state launch collaborative planning effort
In fall 2013, the Port of Skagit, city of Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County and Enterprise Services began a collaborative planning process to explore community interest in and assess the potential for future redevelopment of the property. The local entities forged the following common goals:
· Encourage the private sector to create and sustain jobs benefitting all Skagit County and its citizens.
· Continue to promote public recreational use of the property.
· Protect environmentally sensitive areas such as Hanson Creek
· Acknowledge and protect the historic significance of the property to the local community, the wider region and the state of Washington.
· Acknowledge and respect the interests of the neighboring Upper Skagit Indian Tribe.
State jobs and current property tenants being addressed
Enterprise Services currently manages seven tenant leases on the closed campus. The three largest are with the Port, the U.S. Department of Labor for a Job Corps College and Career Academy and Pioneer Human Services, a residential chemical dependency treatment facility.
The state and Port will work with tenants to plan future development in conjunction with existing commitments. Skagit County and several partners are working together to allow behavioral health care facilities to transition off the property.
There are 10 full-time Enterprise Services employees who work onsite maintaining the property’s buildings and surrounding grounds. They will continue until the Port assumes management of the property at date yet to be determined.
Governor demonstrates his commitment and support
In April 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee approved legislation sponsored by state Sens. Kirk Pearson and Kevin Ranker granting the state authority to pursue a long-term lease with the Port to redevelop the site. The Port currently leases more than half the property.
In February 2016, the governor visited the campus to meet with more than 20 representatives from the Port, Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County, Washington Federation of State Employees and local economic development and regional behavioral health organizations to hear more about the collaborative planning efforts for the site.
Gov. Inslee said: “This agreement is a great example of what we can accomplish together when the state works in collaboration with local government partners. Transferring the property to the Port of Skagit will help the local community finally realize its long-term vision for the property which has been underutilized for more than 40 years. This agreement makes cultural, environmental and economic sense that should pay dividends for all Washingtonians.”
Transfer agreement heartily supported by local and state government partners
Enterprise Services Director Chris Liu said: “We have reached another critical milestone with this property transfer agreement. Local problems need locally-based solutions. Our charge was bringing the right people to the table to reach an agreement that meets the original criteria established more than three years ago. By working closely together as partners, we have achieved what once seemed like an insurmountable goal.”
Port of Skagit Commission President Dr. Kevin Ware said: “Placing the site under local control will allow the Port of Skagit to put this beautiful and historically important publicly owned property to a much higher use than it has seen for nearly a generation. Over the next several years, in coordination with other local government agencies, the Port will work with Janicki Bioenergy to create much needed, well-paying, technology-research and manufacturing jobs. The transition to local control will also allow the Port to make the park-like grounds more open to the general public and will lead to an improvement in mental health care by optimally locating and improving those facilities.”
State Sen. Pearson, whose 39th legislative district includes most of Skagit and Snohomish counties as well as the northeast King County, was instrumental in helping pull the partnership among the state and local governments together. From the outset, the senator was engaged in the process, helping foster conversations with the local community as well as between state agencies and local government partners. His bipartisan efforts were crucial in securing a long-term lease for the Port and supporting the property transfer agreement.
Pearson said: “I and my fellow state lawmakers are extremely pleased by the collaboration between local governments and state agencies. The transfer of property is a huge win for our community. It has been essential that everyone – the state, the Port, Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County and the community – all come together to find solutions that will benefit the county, the region and the entire state.”
Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said: “The SWIFT center has great potential to create lasting family-wage jobs for our community. I’m pleased that we’re taking the next step forward to make this project a reality, and I’m thankful for the incredible support we’ve received from our local and regional stakeholders.”
City of Sedro-Woolley Mayor Keith Wagoner said: "I want to see Sedro-Woolley grow and prosper in a responsible, common sense way that respects our past. Transfer of ownership to local control means the underutilized property will be revitalized and will once again make Sedro-Woolley the economic engine of east Skagit County.”
Port of Skagit Commissioner Bill Shuler said: “The Port’s vision for the Center is an innovation and clean technology campus. The purpose is to provide results, both in terms of economic growth for the city of Sedro-Woolley and through sustainability innovations and partnerships.”