Despite a handful of development setbacks, the new home of the Port of Ridgefield has officially opened.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 1, staff and officials from the port celebrated the opening of “The Bluffs,” alongside representatives of nearby ports, the city and other local groups. The 15,000-square-foot building at 101 Mill St. will house a number of tenants. The first official entity to move into the building is the port.
The port offices moved from the previous location at 111 W. Division St. last month as they brought their operations to the other side of the railroad.
Ridgefield Mayor Jennifer Lindsay said the move represents the first steps to transform the Ridgefield waterfront.
“For the waterfront, it’s like all of these pieces of a puzzle that so many of us have been working on for years and years and years are kind of starting to fall into place,” Lindsay said. “I’m really excited to see what that final picture ends up looking like.”
The old port space won’t go to waste, as a number of local groups will move into the Division Street office, Lindsay said. Ridgefield Main Street, American Legion Post 44, the Ridgefield Art Association and Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library are among the new tenants.
The port isn’t the only government office that will move into The Bluffs. Lindsay mentioned the Ridgefield Police Department will make its move into the facility this spring.
Lindsay brought bottles of the city’s own wine, which is called Ridgefield Roundabout Red, to give to members of the port and FDM Development, who constructed the building. She noted The Bluffs is the city’s first new building in downtown since the current police station was built in 1998.
Lindsay said FDM Development’s Principal Dean Maldonado’s previous projects have stimulated economic development in the city. Those projects include the Discovery Ridge complex which includes Rosauers and a number of other businesses.
“The Bluffs is just another example of his commitment to Ridgefield,” Lindsay said.
Maldonado said the roughly $5.8 million project came in a year over schedule and $1.2 million over budget. He said a perfect storm of supply chain and labor issues led to much of the overrun.
“We couldn’t get windows (or) doors. Everything got backlogged and the prices went up,” Maldonado said.
He said steel prices doubled during the course of the project.
On top of those issues, the project was impacted by water that came from an adjacent property during the building’s construction, Maldonado said.
Apart from the port and the police department, additional office space will be leased out to other tenants, Maldonado said. He mentioned there is still 2,500 square feet of space to fill.
The developer said his affinity for small towns draws him to work on projects in places like Ridgefield.
“I love old towns, grew up in old towns, so it’s always nice to have something,” Maldonado said.
The relocation is sort of a homecoming for port operations, Port of Ridgefield Commissioner Bruce Wiseman said
“Believe it or not, it’s taken us about 30 years to get our office back uptown,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman noted much of the leadership from nearby ports was present during the ceremony, as was Eric ffitch, the executive director of the Washington Public Ports Association.
Wiseman turned his attention to the waterfront, acknowledging that eight of 41 acres of port-owned land along Lake River and Carty Lake will be dedicated to a community park.
“This waterfront is ours collectively,” Wiseman said.