Developer Plans 2-Building Cornwall Place for Downtown Bellingham, Wash.

Office buildings would also mix residential component


May 17--A Bellingham construction company is planning to build two large mixed-use buildings in the city's downtown district.

Cabochon Construction & Development has submitted pre-application documents to the city of Bellingham to build Cornwall Place, a 15-story building and a seven-story structure on the corner of Cornwall Avenue and East Maple Street, behind Boundary Bay Brewery.

Chris Benner, vice president at Cabochon, said they are moving forward on this project because the company sees an increase in market demand for residential and commercial space in the downtown core.

"As demand for office space and residential units in downtown rises, Cornwall Place will meet those needs and reduce the adverse impacts caused by urban sprawl," Benner said.

The company intends to build in two phases, starting with the seven-story building. The first four floors will have 28,477 square feet of office space, while the upper three floors will be home to four condominiums. The building will have a parking garage that will be partially underground and accommodate 200 parking spaces.

The second phase will consist of a mixed-use building as high as 15 stories. The actual size and make-up of the second building will be determined by market demand, Benner said.

STRONG DEMAND

This latest project continues the interest in the downtown core for both condominiums and commercial space. There has been strong demand in pre-sales of residential spaces for the Bay View Tower on North State Street, said Brian Crovo, a sales consultant for Bay View. The company started taking reservations on Friday, and Crovo said they already have more than half of the 124 units reserved.

Another downtown developer, David Johnston, co-owner of Daylight Development Co., said he doesn't see the demand for condominiums in Bellingham decreasing in the near term.

"Buying and living in condos has become a national trend, and there are so many benefits to living in Bellingham," Johnston said.

Bob Hall, Johnston's partner in Daylight Development, said the Cornwall Place project will test the demand for new office space in downtown Bellingham. He couldn't recall a new downtown office structure being built without a prospective tenant in place in the past 70 years.

"I think this is a product that will succeed, because people and businesses are coming back to downtown," Hall said. "This is a product that Bellingham currently doesn't have."

Other features for Cornwall Place include a two-level pedestrian plaza that will connect the two buildings. Benner didn't disclose a total project cost because they don't have final numbers yet.

This will be the first major downtown project for Cabochon Construction & Development, which plans to move into Cornwall Place. The company, founded by Bill Maris in 1997, has built more than 150 units in the past two years. Some of the Bellingham projects include Cordata Cottages, Bedford Homes and Lincoln Creek Condominiums.