A new hotel is on the horizon for Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven district.
The proposed hotel by the Uy Family Limited Partnership is located at 1514, 12th St. close to Haggen in Fairhaven. The plans for the hotel include a restaurant, hotel rooms, conference rooms and apartments.
Fairhaven, established in 1883, currently has two hotels, the Fairhaven Village Inn and the Chrysalis Inn, for visitors to stay in.
Scott Ward, executive director of the Fairhaven Association, said the new hotel would play an essential role in the economic health of Fairhaven.
“This new hotel will allow more folks to visit and stay longer,” Ward said. “I think it will be a great addition to Fairhaven and Bellingham. The mixture of commercial, hospitality and residential is a perfect model for our historic district.”
The hotel is in the early stages of its development phase as Fairhaven has unique design standards to ensure new developments meet the criteria of the historic area.
Michael Lilliquist, Ward 6 of the Bellingham City Council, said he has concerns about the new building.
“Fairhaven works so well because no building is too large,” Lilliquist said. “Mid-size, mid-rise buildings with some historic character are the best parts of Fairhaven. I think it would harm Fairhaven in the long run if we see too much ‘ordinary’ development so that Fairhaven loses its local flavor and starts to look and feel like other places.”
Issues, like aspects outside the hotel, have arisen surrounding the proposed development. Parking in Fairhaven is challenging due to the small lots in the district.
“Beyond the parking issue are the other aspects of running a hotel: the exhaust equipment, noise control and increased traffic.” Ward said. “All of these could impact the quality of living in or near the village core.”
Lisa Anderson, Ward 5 of the Bellingham City Council, said a new development has pros and cons.
“There will be jobs in construction, which tends to pay higher wages in our community,” Anderson said. “There will also be retail level jobs after completion. Those do not tend to pay a livable wage but can offer some flexibility in hours which can be good for those seeking part-time employment.”
Adding a third hotel to the Fairhaven district would help increase the number of visitors the town could house.
“Having a hotel near the core of Fairhaven can also be beneficial for tourism and multiple businesses can realize the benefit from the money tourists infuse into the local economy,” Anderson said.
With tourism growing, the insistence on more hotels in Bellingham has been an ongoing debate.
“Several years ago, Bellingham Whatcom Tourism sponsored a study to look at whether or not our region had too many or not enough hotels, given the demand and expected growth in demand,” Lilliquist said. “Of course, the [COVID-19] pandemic threw things off, but the consensus view is that there is a need for more guest accommodations.”
The city will help ensure the developer meets the rules set under various codes.
Emily Paulson (she/her) is a senior reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a sophomore currently pursuing a double major in journalism specifically news/ed track and in accounting. Emily focuses her reporting on the Bellingham waterfront and other city news stories. Outside of journalism, Emily plays on the Western softball team, enjoys watching sports, spending time with friends and working on her podcast.
Her instagram is @empaulson22