Imagine living in a brand-new apartment, drinking your coffee on a sunny balcony overlooking the trees. Later, you take the kids downstairs and walk a loop trail while they play at the park. Afterward, they run through a fountain next to a shady gazebo where you sit and enjoy a book.
For lunch, you head to Robeks for fresh, cold smoothies. You wrap up the afternoon with a matinee showing of a new movie playing at the Regal Cinemas, and then stop on the way home to pick up a MOD Pizza for dinner. You’ve just spent an entire day without wrestling anyone into a car seat or driving around looking for parking. All this and more is possible at Barkley Village.
Exciting changes are happening here. The area, historically known as a business district, has evolved into a living, breathing neighborhood full of families, music, and much more.
“For years this area of town has largely been referred to as the financial district of Bellingham,” says Neal Swanson of Barkley Village. “You used to come out here on a Friday night, and it was a ghost town. Now there are pubs, 13 dining options, and an apartment building with more on the way. It’s rapidly becoming a well-rounded neighborhood.”
After 30 years of housing banks and financial institutions, Barkley owners are changing the face of the area. They’ve diversified the business mix, added a branch of the Bellingham Public Library, and continue to add entertainment options for the whole family to enjoy.
“We believe that we can become an integral part of the greater Bellingham community in the same way that Fairhaven and downtown have been a uniquely positive, but independent part of Bellingham,” says Swanson. “Barkley is growing into a place where the whole family can be drawn to different activities in addition to the excellent business foundation that already exists.”
An apartment building with 91 units is scheduled to break ground this year, with further plans in the works for additional family housing, senior living and the possibility of a hotel in the near future. “If we were going to build ten buildings, our goal would be for seven of those to be living-related,” says Swanson. With the number of people looking for housing in Bellingham, Barkley Village is working diligently to meet the demand.
The company is also excited to bring in more families and has big plans for a family recreation area next to the Regal Cinemas.
“We’re adding a playground for families made with all-natural elements,” says Swanson. The new playground will go up this year next to a popular trail that circles a pond, allowing parents to walk while the kids play. “It’ll be an excellent option for families before or after seeing a movie or grabbing coffee on a weekend morning.”
New businesses in Barkley have taken off. “The surrounding neighbors have been excited to have some great nightlife options close by,” says Swanson. “Overflow Taps and The Blue Abode Bar have created an after-hours scene in the Village, while the addition of a gym, varied food offerings, and uses like a hair salon underscore the urban village feel.”
Barkley is working to keep the area predominantly local. “Ideally, we would stay away from the big chains when possible,” says Swanson. The Village gives careful thought to each tenant they rent space to, considering who the business owners are and what’s best for the neighborhood. “Most of the new leases have been much closer to mom-and-pop operations with local ownership and oversight,” he says.
“We’re trying to find people who are working in their business and want to be a partner in the community,” says Swanson. “Businesses that make the neighborhood the best it can be for those visiting or living within it, and not just the bottom line.”
Not only is Barkley a place for romantic date nights, but last year they hosted a slew of events that brought in over 11,000 people.
In 2018, Barkley Village and their tenants organized 13 non-profits events, enjoyable and entertaining for the whole family, from an Easter egg hunt in the spring to a Halloween Whiskey Walk in the fall. And these events raised $217,000 for local non-profits. This year, the Barkley Village team is gearing up for another full calendar of fantastic events and fundraisers.
“It’s not just a place to work – it’s a neighborhood,” says Swanson. “We’re partnering with many different non-profits to raise money while adding fun new events at the same time.”
The financials from last year’s events show that non-profits who moved their galas and fundraisers to Barkley Village together raised $92,000 more than they did the year before in different venues.
“Keep an eye out for the schedule of events to come,” says Swanson. “We’re making Barkley a more vibrant and philanthropic place.”
Check the calendar often. You don’t want to miss any of the exciting events coming up this year.