H&LA Development Update: Bellingham, Washington

H&LA’s recent research for a project in Bellingham, Washington revealed some exciting new hospitality-related developments happening in the area. These developments will have an impact on tourism, employment, and the general economy in Bellingham and the surrounding areas in 2023 and beyond.

  • Southwest Airlines recently announced that it would begin offering nonstop flights between Bellingham International Airport and Denver International Airport. These Saturday-only flights are scheduled to start in April 2023 and will be operated on a seasonal basis. Southwest first began service out of Bellingham in 2021, and the airline now offers daily flights to Oakland International Airport and Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.
  • The Port of Bellingham is currently considering proposals for a redevelopment of the historic Boardmill Building, located along the city’s downtown waterfront. To date, proposals have included a hotel/convention center, a recreational complex, and a soccer stadium capable of seating between 5,000 and 10,000 people. While it remains unclear which of these proposals will be selected, construction on this major redevelopment project is expected to be finished by the end of 2025.
  • A new attraction called Volli Bellingham opened at 4190 Cordata Parkway in Bellingham in November 2022. Touted as the largest pickleball center in Washington state, Volli Bellingham features eight pickleball courts, a golf simulator, shuffleboard, cornhole, and darts. This new venue is now available for daily general admission, league play, and private parties.
  • The Lummi Nation is currently moving forward with plans for a mixed-use commercial district called Salish Village on 160 acres near the Slater Road interchange off of Interstate 5, on the southern edge of Ferndale. The first phase of this project, completed in October 2020, created the Lummi Bay Market, which includes a convenience store, fuel pumps, and two quick-service restaurants. Salish Village is expected to add more retail and entertainment outlets over the next few years.
  • In September 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would award $4.6 million to the Lummi Nation to develop infrastructure needed to support tourism-related businesses. This grant will go toward the construction of a new retail marketplace showcasing the work of Indigenous artists and craftspeople, designed to attract tourists to the area. Funded by the American Rescue Plan, this grant is expected to create upwards of 70 new jobs.
  • Following the recent legalization of sports wagering in the state of Washington, Silver Reef Casino Resort in Ferndale debuted its new Portage Bay Sports Bar & Book in August of 2022. This area, in the space formerly occupied by the Portage Bay Bar, offers an in-person sportsbook window and multiple self-serve stations, as well as a state-of-the-art video wall that can show up to 16 separate games at once.