Resort plans at Rayonier site scrapped
Port Angeles, WA - Plans to redevelop the old Rayonier mill site with top quality condominiums and destination resort have evaporated, leaving a big question mark as to what will happen to the prime piece of waterfront real estate.
But the man who had been ideas for the property says he still has dreams of building a similar project somewhere on the North Peninsula.
It was less than a year ago that California developer Jerry Ward hit town like a whirlwind, unveiling an expansive proposal for the former pulp mill site at the mouth of Ennis Creek.
City officials had been talking to Ward for several months prior to the public unveiling of his plans last July and there had been rumors something was up. Still, his sweeping announcements caught many community leaders, and especially the general public, by surprise.
His plans involved a smorgasbord of features, anchored by expensive, waterfront condos that Ward said would provide the basic business income for the development. But he didn’t stop there. Ward also envisioned an aquarium and marine research center, a recreational water park, shops and other amenities. He even hooked up with Levx inventor Jerry Lamb and entertained the idea of using Lamb’s mag-lev system to run passengers back and forth between the development and downtown. And there was talk of bringing the former aircraft carrier USS Ranger in as a tourist attraction.
But after the initial flurry of publicity, there wasn’t much news from Ward, or from city leaders who had been working with him. A few weeks ago, sources at the city told PNN they had doubts whether Ward was going to follow through on his plans.
And that turns out to be the case. In an interview with the Peninsula Daily News, Ward told the paper that the Rayonier property no longer was a part of his plans for the multi-million dollar development. Ward tells the PDN he just “doesn’t think it’s ever going to happen” after recent talks with Rayonier officials. The company had been accommodating, but non-committal during Ward’s presentation last summer, and there had never been news of any progress between the parties. Rayonier officials have been focused on environmental cleanup for the site since the mill closed back in 1997. Ward told the paper he was also leery of possible complications in developing the land, after seeing the delays that have affected the state’s dry dock project at the western end of the waterfront. The mouth of Ennis Creek was also the site of Klallam villages in the past.
Ward tells the PDN he’s still interested in doing a project in this area though, and is continuing to look for a waterview site of comparable size, such as the old K Mart property off Masters Road.
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