Construction work will begin this summer at the City’s operations facility on Pacific Street, including a new five-story structure and an upgraded, expanded equipment storage facility. The project will replace a 20-year-old temporary portable building, as well as 50-year-old equipment sheds, with sustainable and efficient facilities.
On April 26, 2021, Bellingham City Council approved a bid award, submitted by Spee West Construction, of nearly $20 million that will allow construction to begin on the first structural upgrade of the Public Works Operations facility in more than 25 years. The City is opting to invest in its current facility location in the 2200 block of Pacific Street for at least the next 50 years, replacing aging facilities, consolidating similar operations and adding some services.
The construction approved by Council will allow the City’s Parks Operations and Public Works Operations divisions to consolidate office space, equipment and services at a single, central site, creating efficiencies and preparing for future needs.
According to Mike Olinger, project lead and Public Works assistant director for operations, the City investigated several other locations to accommodate future needs and growth. However, the most feasible option is to remain at the current location.
“There are several reasons to remain at Pacific Street and build up,” said Olinger. “Both Parks and Public Works need more space for large equipment, crew prep space and offices for combined staffs. As the City expands, this central location will ensure we can get anywhere service is needed – within a reasonable amount of time.”
Equipment to install, maintain and repair everything in the City right-of-way – from watermains, sewer lines, stormwater facilities, streets, traffic signals and communications – as well the City’s fleet of emergency response and utility vehicles, currently utilizes nearly 20 acres. Since there is not space to expand beyond the current property footprint, the new City Operations Administration Center is growing vertically.
A new five-story structure will house workspace for certain Parks Operations, Public Works Operations and Natural Resources Division staff, as well as an additional television studio to allow video recording of simultaneous City meetings. The building will be fully electric and built to LEED silver standards. It will include a new electric vehicle charging station, be solar panel-ready, and use natural and recycled materials in construction. Public art will be incorporated into the Operations Administration building showing Bellingham and the bay, and art is being solicited for the vehicle barn/storage facility, as part of the City’s “1% for the Arts” program, which allocates 1% of eligible funds for capital projects (costing over $2 million) toward art.
When the Pacific Street facility is completed, the Parks Operations center on Woburn Street will be reconfigured for storage of seasonal use equipment, material storage and plant nursery functions.
For more information, visit the City Operations Center project webpage or watch the virtual information Open House held in January 2021.