Port of Olympia Plans Expansion of Marina to Accommodate Trend Toward Larger Boats

“Reflecting a reported trend toward consumer purchases of larger pleasure boats, the Port of Olympia is embarking on an expansion of its Swantown Marina to construct three new piers to primarily accommodate craft 40 feet and longer.The anticipated expansion of the 488-slip marina, constructed 17 years ago, is due to open in summer 2002. Shoreline development permits for the 156-slip expansion are now being sought by the Port.Port Commissioner Bob Van Schoorl said this is the first phase of what is eventually to become a three-phase expansion and realignment of boat-moorage slips at the marina. During each of the next two phases, he said, the Port can adjust its mix of slip sizes to coincide with moorage demand at that time.We can accommodate any changes in the marketplace as we move toward phases two and three in the development, Van Schoorl said.Currently, it is clear that boat owner demand is highest for larger slips, according to Wendy Holden, the Port’s Deputy Director. An extensive examination of marina boat-moorage waiting lists was conducted throughout Puget Sound as well as in the South Sound, she said.As we analyzed the market for additional marina slips, it was apparent that almost all marinas are full at the 40-foot, 44-foot and above slips, she said. Some marinas, she reported, have waiting lists as long as a projected 20 years for moorage of pleasure boats that are 50 feet and longer.In the case of Swantown Marina, moorage slips are full during the summer and about 90 percent occupied during the winter, said Bruce Marshall, the Port’s Swantown Manager. But winter vacancies are in the smaller slips and involve boats stored on trailers during the off season, he said.Presently, the Port has a moorage-waiting list of 38 boat owners. Marshall said all but five of those requests are for slips 40 feet and longer. Because of the demand, 115 of the 156 slips planned for Swantown’s expansion will be 40 feet and longer – up to 66 feet for moorage at the ends of the three new docks. Forty-one slips will be shorter than 40 feet.At the current 50 percent design milestone, the marina expansion is expected to cost nearly $3.5 million. This estimate includes taxes and a contingency fund as well as design and construction costs.The 156 new slips will add more than a mile – a total of 6,500 feet – of lineal moorage at the marina. The expansion will involve construction of docks D, E and F between moorage piers at each end of the marina. A future expansion is planned at the south end of the marina when additional market growth warrants. The third phase will entail moving the visitor-boat moorage from the north end to the south end, closer to the Port’s Farmers Market and other Market District commercial properties.Also included in the expansion plans are new restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, parking areas, and a plaza area on the waterfront. The second phase of this project will involve recruiting private sector investment in an upland marina village to support retail and commercial development suitable to the waterfront environment.Swantown’s new piers will have state-of-the-art dock boxes and other amenities, Marshall reported. Amenities will include two phone lines per slip and other at-home conveniences, such as a cable TV hookup.The planned expansion will attract not only more pleasure boats to the Olympia area but should stimulate more marine oriented business activity in Thurston County, Van Schoorl said.The increase in boats not only helps our Swantown Boatworks maintenance and repair center but also other existing and future marine oriented business activity, Van Schoorl said.It’s anticipated that it will take nearly another two years for the Port to obtain all the necessary construction permits, Holden said. The goal is to have the new slips available for use in summer 2002.Holden said the Port will not begin leasing out new slips until spring 2002. Boat owners interested in leasing a slip may place their name on a mailing list for notification.”