Puget Sound Estuarium no longer pursuing tenancy in Port’s Waterfront Center due to lack of funds

Estuarium to look elsewhere


Puget Sound Estuarium (PSE) has stopped pursuing tenancy in the Port of Olympia’s planned Waterfront Center, Strategic Initiatives Director Camille St. Onge told the Port Commission on Monday, March 18.

PSE is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs and exhibits about marine life. Plans for the Waterfront Center, which will be located near Swantown Marina, included space for PSE, which was planning to lease at least 5,000 square feet of space for two classrooms and exhibit space in the planned building.

St. Onge said that PSE has chosen a different location as they were not able to raise enough funds to locate their facility in the Waterfront Center.

“Their board felt the capital investment to build out that space was more than they could raise funds for, and so they chose to move into a space somewhere in Olympia that's about a million-dollar capital investment campaign,” St. Onge explained, adding that moving to the Waterfront Center would have cost PSE $8 million.

The port staff sees the Waterfront Center as a catalyst for the Destination Waterfront project, which seeks to transform the entire port peninsula into a commercial destination.  With PSE out, the port itself is the only confirmed tenant of the building, as the port is looking to use it to house the marina and its new administrative offices.

Commissioner Jasmine Vasavada expressed concern about whether the building would sufficiently catalyze the Destination Waterfront project.

St. Onge assured that the Destination Waterfront master plan accounts for the entire peninsula, not just one building. She added that plans for the Waterfront Center will include public access and amenities to drive more traffic into the area.

As the port is about to open requests for qualifications to hire an architect for the building, St. Onge mentioned that one qualification for the selected firm is that it must have experience helping property owners recruit tenants.

The director also mentioned that they plan to conduct a market analysis by April to evaluate what type of businesses would make viable tenants. The results of the analysis will be integrated into the planning of the building.


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  • cascadian12

    Building out the Peninsula for commercial development is a TERRIBLE idea. The Peninsula provides the only sizeable open space for downtown, and provides far more value to City residents and visitors as open space than as commercial development that could be provided anywhere. Development would be the opposite of "improvement." Buildings and walls would shut off this space and detract from the views of the Salish Sea and mountains in the distance. Humans need to connect with nature and the vista from the Billy Frank Trail is restorative and needed for human health and welfare. The Port should limit its management on the Peninsula to the Marine Terminal and Swantown Marina and leave the rest alone. Except for these two areas, the Peninsula should be turned over to the City to manage as open space.

    Wednesday, March 20 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    Sorry to hear. The Estuarium could be a great destination along the waterfront. I hope they can find the funding somewhere. The waterfront in its entirety should be more of a destination for everyone with tourism, businesses, housing, and more. Let's stop stifling growth around here so we can reap the potential rewards. It's not difficult to get creative and do this in a productive and sustainable way.

    Wednesday, March 20 Report this