By Meg Olson
Blackfish Resort has purchased the project property at 775 Marine Drive, paving the way for the long-planned resort to become a reality.
Principal Steve O’Neill said the resort hopes to open as soon as possible and sets their goal at late 2019.
Blackfish purchased the 4.32 acre property with 362 feet of waterfront on September 14 for $3.3 million from Turnstone Properties.
In 1932, the 16,000 square-foot building was built by the Lighthouse Packing Company and used for canning salmon. Subsequently, it was purchased by Gus and Ing Iwersen for canning clams, and later became the Cannery restaurant and nightclub. The property was extensively remodeled in 1998 by Turnstone Properties and named Pier Point, with plans for a restaurant and retail complex that never materialized.
O’Neill has held the property under contract with Turnstone since 2007 and has worked to design and permit the resort. It’s been a slow process, O’Neill said.
In 2009, the county hearing examiner approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for the project, and Blackfish came in at the wire with building permit applications in February 2016 as the CUP was set to expire. The building permit applications have been extended several times as the county requested additional information.
Whatcom County planner Nick Smith said the information requested in the last notice of additional requirements issued to Blackfish was due on September 17, and O’Neill submitted the bulk of it by September 15. “He is still working on the septic system,” Smith said.
After the permits are approved, the company will need to submit drawings for the design of the stormwater system. Once the building permits are issued the project will need to break ground in 180 days.
O’Neill, addressing local speculation that funding for the resort was coming from foreign investors, said that wasn’t the case. “Blackfish Resort is locally owned,” he said, but declined to identify other investors at this time. The secretary of state corporation website lists only O’Neill as a governing person of the corporation.