Small Washington city turning brownfield parking lot into downtown revitalization with library and mixed-use redevelopment

The city of Mount Vernon, Washington is a small, picturesque city situated at the foothills of the Cascades mountain range in northern Washington state, located nearly halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Its quaint streets are lined with small businesses that keep its downtown lively and its citizens happy. However, the current library is approaching the end of its lifetime as the citizens need more out of the library than the building can provide.

During the Council of Development Finance Agencies‘ (CDFA) recent visit to Mount Vernon, their Project Response Team learned of the city’s innovative plans to combine a new library, community center, and parking garage into one mixed-use building in the heart of downtown.

These plans are the culmination of years of research, outreach, and desire from the community members. Through that process, it was determined that the best solution is to move the location of the library to a site closer to the downtown core that is currently open-air parking. This site was previously home to several gas stations which are believed to have contaminated the soil when the gas tanks were removed.

The site visit allowed our City’s project planning team to refine and clarify our path, moving forward. With the guidance of the Council of Development Finance Agencies, and the participation of our community stakeholders, we’re far more confident that this project will be a success!” said Isaac Huffman, the Director of the Mount Vernon City Library.

In 2019, select communities received on-site technical assistance from a team of finance and technical experts accompanied by select CDFA staff. These visits offered specific, actionable advice that could help transform brownfields into economic assets.

Toby Rittner, President & CEO of CDFA, remarked, “We are very pleased to present these recommendations for the City of Mt. Vernon, WA. This redevelopment initiative provides an opportunity for truly creative and collaborative approaches to addressing a challenging site by incorporating solutions for future community needs. We believe this project has the potential to transform the downtown through the innovative design that the community has envisioned.

The CDFA Brownfields Technical Assistance Program is funded by a grant from the U.S. EPA to assist communities throughout the country looking to finance the redevelopment of brownfield sites. CDFA will provide education, resources, research and networking on revolving loan funds, tax incentives, tax increment finance, and other tools available for redevelopment finance.

See the full Mt. Vernon, WA Roadmap to Redevelopment Report.

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