The Port of Olympia Commission decided to place a mixed-use office building called the Marine Waterfront Center near the Swantown Marina on Monday, March 20. Port Commissioner Joe Downing was the only commissioner to oppose the location, which was recommended by Port staff.
The new building would house the marina and Port administration offices and provide space for marine-related organizations. Swantown Senior Manager TJ Quandt explained that plans for Destination Waterfront recommended placing the building near the marina.
Quandt said that the proximity of the building to the marina would improve operational efficiency and attract visitors. The site is also four times larger than an alternative spot on Market Street near the south entrance of the marine terminal, which Downing preferred.
Downing said they could easily maximize the alternative site by building a three-story building, which Port staff is still unsure if they can do with the preferred location. Downing added that a site near the marine terminal portrays a better image of the Port.
“Moving our offices closer to the waterfront, while it certainly would be beautiful, from that standpoint, I think that it doesn't portray the right image of the Port whereas I think [the other site] could do a better job of that,” he said.
Commission agrees to ownership of the building
The Port also discussed whether to own or rent the administration office in the building. The commission ultimately agreed to the staff’s recommendation of owning the office. However, Harding rejected the idea, believing that it would not be an efficient use of taxpayer funds to build and own the offices.
Quandt explained that owning the office could “provide an anchor point for the Port to conduct business” and help increase visibility for the Port’s brand. However, owning the project is costlier than renting, an issue that Harding noted.
“This is another non-revenue-generating project that we're embarking on,” she said.
Quandt showed a comparative analysis of the cost of leasing and renting the site for 30 years. The analysis does not account for rate increases and potential revenue, but leasing the office would cost the Port around $15.5 million, while building and owning it would cost $17.7 million.
The Port is partnering with Puget Sound Estuarium, which would have exhibit space and classrooms in the building. The Port is also working on adding another educational facility called the “One Water” Tech Center to educate visitors about water quality and wastewater treatment.
The cost for constructing the building is estimated at $11.4 million but could increase to $16.2 million if the Port is able to build a third story.
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Of course. Build it where the increasingly high tides can destroy it.
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