The Port of South Whidbey is assessing the feasibility of building workforce housing on the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds and Event Center. This page is dedicated to providing information and responding to frequently asked questions regarding the project.

Original concept drawings by Ron Kasprisin can be found here.

Current concept drawings by The Brown Associates/Architects, Inc. can be found here. A concept drawing that includes potential parking can be found here.

The midway food booths on the Fairgrounds are in need of significant repair. The Port is considering rebuilding the food booths with workforce housing situated above the concession stands. The funding for the feasibility phase of this project is from Island County. $150,000 has been awarded for engineering and architecture, infrastructure assessment, and to pursue zoning updates with the City of Langley. Island County Commissioners have indicated that further feasibility funding should be available to the Port once zoning is approved by the City of Langley.

The City of Langley is currently reviewing the Port’s application for a change in the zoning overlay at the Fairgrounds that would permit housing as a secondary use for buildings on the property. The zoning change would be conceptual; if approved, the zoning change would not automatically approve the Port’s planned workforce housing project. The Port’s specific project would still need to go through further reviews and approvals in the future.

Any housing development on the Fairgrounds would not reduce the amount of ground area available for Fair operations. An exception is provided for reductions resulting from redevelopment and relocation of non-conforming Fair facilities necessary to provide adequate setbacks from Fairgrounds property boundaries.

A summary with more information about workforce housing and affordable housing, including Island County Area Mean Income information and housing affordability, can be found here.

All information gathered to date as it is being provided here is conceptual and will assist in determining if this project is feasible.


Why the Fairgrounds?

  • The Fairgrounds is an option for housing because sufficient water and sewer infrastructure capacity is available at the property. There are extremely limited areas in South Whidbey where this infrastructure is available.

Will the current planned project encroach on the annual Whidbey Island Fair?

  • It is important to note that the current concession stands are not entirely built on Port property. The current structure extends into the neighboring school property up to 10 feet. If the structure is ever to be rebuilt, it would need to be moved so that it is situated entirely on Port property, which would in itself encroach on the midway, no more than this planned project would.
  • The Port has worked very closely with an architect to develop concepts that would have minimal impact on the Midway and the Fair, and also to accommodate a new Eva Mae Gabelein stage. The width of the current midway at the narrowest point is about 57 feet. With the current concept design, the narrowest point in the Midway would be 44 feet.

Who exactly would qualify to be able to rent and live in this workforce housing?

  • “Workforce housing” is targeted at households with incomes between 80 and 120% of area median income- the current targeted income is represented in this chart.
  • At this point we are so very early in the planning stages that detailed tenant requirements have not been finalized. We would partner with the Island County Housing Authority to work together to develop the criteria for tenants. Our intent and plan is to work with the Is. Co. Housing Authority to ensure that the living spaces are available to the local workforce. The Port would not manage the tenants or the rental agreements.