State Street Creamery Reborn! Sort Of.

State St roundabout will earn its keep with all the new neighbors.

State St roundabout will earn its keep with all the new neighbors.

• Topics: Bellingham,

State Street Creamery? It never existed, at least under that name.

The parcel in question was originally the site of a dairy whose building from 1949 still stands although now occupied by other commercial entities. Hence the name taken by the current owner, State Street Creamery, LLC and now the name of the proposed project, a 70 unit apartment building with 84 bedrooms planned for a portion of this lot bordered by State, Berry and N. Forest streets. RJ Group presented the architectural aspects of the apartment building to the mayor’s Design Review Board on June 16th. No land use application has yet been submitted to the Planning Department. This 70 unit (84-bed) building will be Phase I of this project and will develop only half of the parcel with one building on N. Forest at Berry St. The developers indicated that at a later date they have plans to demolish the existing commercial building at the southeast corner of State St. and Berry St. (facing State St.) where they will construct two multi-story, mixed-use buildings which are visible on the sight plan below (click to enlarge).

Parcel site plan
Parcel site plan

The initial five story multi-family apartment building will have 51 studios, 5 one-bedroom apartments, and 14 two-bedroom units. The developer does not see the complex as competition with the enormous private dormitory building (Western Edge) under construction across the street that will be marketed largely to Bellingham’s student population. That student complex will have nearly 500 beds. Also nearby, between Forest and Garden streets, is the behemoth (nearly 450 tenants) private student dormitory called Elevate (formerly Gather), guaranteeing that the State St. traffic circle will be well used.

This parcel is located in Area 16 of the Sehome Neighborhood, but designated Downtown District Urban Village. More specifically, the zoning is Commercial Transition meaning:

“... areas ... intended to allow commercial uses similar to the commercial core, but building height limits are reduced to provide a stepped transition to adjacent residential areas. Design standards in Chapter 20.25 BMC incorporate massing and aesthetic design measures to further reinforce the transition to residential uses.”

Given the presence of the massive Western Edge and Elevate student dormitory complexes, I will leave it to the residents of Sehome Neighborhood to attend any land use meetings to judge if the State Street Creamery fits in this area. Unfortunately, I am afraid it is already too late with the overwhelming 900+ student population soon to be present in buildings that replaced nearby small businesses, the lifeblood of the city. And we now create artificial canyons that shut out light and air… and relationships. Quō vādis, Bellingham?*

[From Lat. “Whither goest thou, Bellingham?”]

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

David A. Swanson

Jun 25, 2020

I am so glad that I lived at 616 N. State Street long before the huge multi-unit housing complexes started appearing, Periodically, my next door neighbor and cousin from Puyallup, Steve Thompson, and I would stroll across the street  to the VFW Hall (He served with the 4th Infantry DIvision in the Central Highlands) for a beer. At least the VFW Hall still stands. Who knows how long those grand old houses will. They likely will all eventually be long gone, just  like the one on N. State Street owned by our neighbor, Bill Scott, the WWU Librarian.

Just another auld lang syne.


Drue Robinson

Jun 26, 2020

Thanks for your reporting, Dick. It is truly a sad state of affairs - and it’s so apparent that there is STILL no viable, intelligent, and concerned traffic planner onboard at COB. 

When all of these ginormous dormitory buildings are finished, the direct route from Southside to Center of Bellingham will be virtually impossible to navigate - except by trail, on bike or foot ... which is better for the planet in the long run. So, there’s a plus. But emergency vehicles? I can’t even imagine the bottleneck issues they’ll be facing.

In-fill is inevitable, but lack of foresight in urban planning still eludes COB. 



Dick Conoboy

Jun 27, 2020


It will be interesting to see how the roundabout will handle the increased traffic.  Usually traffic is measured by LOS (level of service) at intersections with lights.  Like an LOS of F would mean you might have to wait for the light to cycle 2-3 times or more.  With a roundabout, there is no measurement except perhaps the amount of time it takes to enter the circle or the number of cars behind the first car in line to enter.  So maybe an LOS of F would be a line of cars stretching back on State St. to Chestnut.  We will find out soon enough.

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