Mayor’s guest column: A tale of two entities

Bob McChesney
Bob McChesney

This submission is the latest in a series of guest columns on city issues, provided by Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling’s office.

It was the best of times. A new business comes to Edmonds. Jacobsen’s Marine to invest $2 million to construct a new 10,000 square foot retail center along Admiral Way at the Port of Edmonds Marina.

Economic development in action. The City and the Port working together to achieve a common goal. The Port of Edmonds is an independent municipal corporation with a legislative mandate to promote local economic development. As a separate public enterprise, the Port was established for the purpose of developing waterfront facilities to create jobs, expand tax revenues, and provide environmental stewardship for the benefit of the community we serve. The Port has five elected Commissioners who set policy for investments, development, and strategic plans. The Port owns and manages the marina and other commercial properties.

But there’s a lot more to it than what you can see walking along the waterfront. The Port exists on and in the shoreline zone and within critical areas boundaries of the Edmonds Marsh. These environmentally sensitive locations are regulated by the City of Edmonds. Consequently, development is very selective and requires a high degree of technical sophistication that can be very challenging and time consuming to navigate before a project may obtain the necessary permits.

In our world, economic development is all about partnership. Not only as that term would apply as between the City and the Port, but also with the private sector.

A good example of how that works is the Jacobsen’s project. Jacobsen’s is a locally owned family business that sells several lines of high end recreational boats, outboard motors, parts and service. Originally located in Ballard, Jacobsen’s has been in business for over 60 years. Back in 2007, the Port and Jacobsen’s were engaged in negotiations for a new long term lease that would bring them to the Edmonds marina. The deal didn’t happen for a number of reasons, most notably the rapidly declining national economy. The timing wasn’t right. However, another deciding factor at the time was the complications and cost in time and money of permitting a new marine retail business on the shoreline.

In 2013, the Port reached out to Jacobsen’s to reconsider moving to Edmonds. To make the Edmonds marina more attractive for their new location, the Port invested $225,000 (including a $150,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office) to upgrade one of our public sling launches to increase lifting capacity for larger boats sold by Jacobsen’s. The economy was in rebound, and their business was well in to recovery. We dusted off the old plans, made some changes, and signed a new lease.

However, the lease was contingent on Jacobsen’s obtaining a building permit by April 2014. That’s where teamwork and partnership become critical to success. In order to build confidence and expedite the process, the City confirmed Jacobsen’s would be vested under their previous shoreline permit, meaning the project didn’t have to start over from scratch. This saved them many months and avoided the wasted cost of additional re-work.

Building permits take time. That’s just a fact. It’s a process that requires several stages of back and forth discussions and resubmittals between the City and the project applicant. If people knew the degree of effort and technical knowledge required to obtain City permits, they would be amazed. It’s not quite as simple as making a shopping list. Sometimes it resembles a three dimensional cross word puzzle. It isn’t ever easy, but the City has a highly qualified and experienced professional staff that knows how to do this.

I am hopeful to report that Jacobsen’s will have their building permits in time to start construction this month. That is very good news. They need to be finished and open for business before the end of summer, or miss the peak sales season.
It really is the best of times when the City and the Port combine resources to bring a new business to Edmonds. We appreciate the strong efforts by City Staff to make this a reality, and we welcome Jacobsen’s to their new home in Edmonds.

— By Bob McChesney, Port of Edmonds Executive Director

2 Replies to “Mayor’s guest column: A tale of two entities”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *