Update: New setback for Marination at Seacrest

(UPDATED 3:55 pm Friday, with information from Seattle Parks)

At first, it looked like possible progress for Marination‘s Seacrest Boathouse restaurant project when today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin arrived, with word that the land-use permit had been approved. But when we checked in with Marination owners Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton this morning, we found out that instead, they’re dealing with a new delay, and facing a fall opening, at best, compared to the mid-to-late summer estimate when they visited the Alki Community Council last month (WSB coverage here).

“Although Land Use has issued its decision, we just recently heard that we are still nearly 2 months away from getting a building permit,” Edison replied. She explained that the decision announced today will require the city to “inform the Department of Ecology in Olympia,” which then has up to a month to review and make its own decision. Even if it gives thumbs up, she continued, “then there is another mandatory period for public comment, 21 days. Only after this public comment period – again assuming no objections – will the Seattle DPD issue a building permit.”

She says Marination was “not informed of this secondary level of review when all this began.” And it’s not a promising timetable: “Our estimates, with this newly revealed process and our most hopeful build-out timelines, would have us opening in mid- to late September – just in time to watch the leaves turn color.”

So are they considering abandoning the project? We’re waiting for a reply to that followup question, and will also be checking up on where the city Parks Department believes everything stands. If you are just coming in on this ongoing story – the city chose Marination’s bid to operate Seacrest, over a bid by the previous concessionaire, Alki Crab and Fish. Then it was revealed that the site had never been formally approved for restaurant operations, and the city Department of Planning and Development was initiating a separate review on that.

ADDED 3:55 PM FRIDAY: We took our followup questions to Karen O’Connor in the Seattle Parks communications department, and she tracked down the people who could answer them. First, she confirmed that they have not yet finalized a lease with Marination, but said they are “close to a final lease agreement.” O’Connor said Parks has a more optimistic view of the timetable, while affirming what Marination’s Edison told us, that the state now has to issue its approval, with “a 21-day public involvement period that follows that. Then it goes back to DPD who issues the final permit. We hear that DOE often rules pretty quickly. It is still possible for a mid- to late-August opening, if things move along as we hope.”

Finally, we asked about the status of an official community meeting with an update on where things said, which Parks had previously promised for “late spring.” O’Connor says, “We will have some signage on the building by the end of next week and still plan to have a community meeting when we have definite dates that we can share with the community.”

48 Replies to "Update: New setback for Marination at Seacrest"

  • coffee May 24, 2012 (9:41 pm)

    One would think that the city would have known all of these hurdles prior to opening the process of finding a new or current occupant. I would look at this as the city is not even aware of their own policies, since the previous occupant didn’t even have the correct operations on file. I am not surprised, and it again shows how difficult it is for a small business to operate.

  • Pamela Sampel May 24, 2012 (9:43 pm)

    OMG, this is bureaucracy AT ITS WORST. Geeze. Can someone responsible in the City not break through this? This is why people are sooooo frustrated with government, IMHO.

  • YeloRose May 24, 2012 (9:45 pm)

    Is it my imagination, or is the transfer of the liquor stores from state ownership to private going much quicker than this transfer between two city contracts?

  • pigeonmom May 24, 2012 (9:53 pm)

    I agree with all above.
    Something seems fishy here.

  • Heath May 24, 2012 (9:59 pm)

    I agree with Pamela. Another example of our tax dollars hard at work. What a joke.

  • Yossarian May 24, 2012 (10:02 pm)

    This is the kind of stuff that makes many people terrified of opening a small business.

  • Rateros May 24, 2012 (10:07 pm)

    This is unfortunately more common than you may think. I agree the city makes it hard for small businesses to get off the ground. I had to go through a very expensive and time consumimg process to obtain my occupancy permit, mind you, the retail space I rent has been around for decades but nobody ever applied for such permit through DPD.
    And then just last year the DPD wanted me to obtain the same permit for another of our locations hosted at a community center. Ridiculous.
    Good luck to the owners of Marination Station. You are going to need it.

  • Vee May 24, 2012 (10:10 pm)

    This is really nothing new. This process has been in place for over 20 years. It’s really irresponsible for a “reporter” to make it seem like government is just making up things as it goes along, which isn’t the case. DPD can’t approve compliance with State laws or vice versa… WSB sadly is trying to stir up controversy where none exists. Applicants need to do their homework. Think about it. Is it one agency’s job to tell a person how to comply with something in another agency’s jurisdiction? If you don’t know the laws that apply, hire a professional. People who forgo using a real estate agent when they buy or sell a house think it will be simple, but end up have the same problem with sales transactions. You get what you pay for. If you don’t know zoning laws, or how to get proper use permits, hire an architect, planner, permit runner, land use lawyer or other professional who frankly needs the work. Most of all, quit whining. There’s no injustice here.

  • Aman May 24, 2012 (10:21 pm)

    An example of OUR government in-action…

  • Tuesday May 24, 2012 (10:38 pm)

    This is what happens when people who have no stake get involved with any process.

  • AJ May 24, 2012 (10:54 pm)

    I agree with Vee. Come on, it’s a process,.. as frustrating as it is. I hope they make lot’s of money….

  • JanS May 24, 2012 (10:55 pm)

    Vee…you need to read the back story. Previous tenant didn’t have to go through this, and the landlord, Parks Dept. had no clue…

  • Dave May 24, 2012 (10:57 pm)

    That sucks, but like the Alki Homestead this is more whining when someone wants to open a business in an odd/unusual site. Whether its a century old log cabin (historic landmark to boot) or in this case a city owned odd one off site. I’m sorry but if you don’t own the land you are stuck with the complications of the actual owner (city in this case). This simply boils down to “who knew the current business was never licensed properly”. Now the new renters are faced with a process that should have been done to begin with.

  • old timer May 24, 2012 (11:02 pm)

    To me, the problem is simple.
    There’s not enough money to spread around.
    And, Marination is not seeking public funding or bonds.
    Now, if this was a hedge fund operator, with ties to
    sports, why the backdoors would swing wide to accommodate
    whatever half baked scheme rolled thru to sop up whatever taxpayer money could be found.
    And, the politicians would elbow each other aside to assume the obligatory kneeling position in front of said opportunity.
    Marination, forget the permits, go for the public financing!

  • datamuse May 24, 2012 (11:04 pm)

    WSB sadly is trying to stir up controversy where none exists
    How do you figure? Their reporting of the situation looks pretty straightforward to me.

    • WSB May 24, 2012 (11:34 pm)

      Thanks, DM, I didn’t see that line previously. Sorry, not stirring anything except Alka-Seltzer at this hour. Just doing my job as a journalist. Land Use Info Bulletin comes in, says Land Use permit granted, I have learned over the years that you can’t assume anything from what’s on the city website – I have seen projects outlined and then cancelled, etc. – so you better talk to somebody to verify. Therefore, I contacted the key figures in the ongoing story to ask them if it’s good news for them as it appears – and they say, well, exactly what I reported above. Regardless of whether this is the same process that has existed since time immemorial, nobody seemed to be aware of it – if you read the city statement quoted in our March story, “the need for a restaurant permit was not anticipated.”
      In my conversations with Marination, they have actually gone out of their way, in my assessment, not to city-bash nor to complain. When, four weeks after that announcement, they both appeared at the Alki Community Council meeting, they were fairly upbeat (check the smiles in our photo):
      However, along the way, they also noted that they had not finalized the lease, because so much of this was suddenly up in the air. So that’s why I am asking them, on followup, if there is a possibility they will pull out. I also plan to contact Parks tomorrow morning, though I suspect a fair amount of the world is gone for a 4-day weekend, and I might have a challenge reaching key player(s) there before Tuesday. – TR

  • Seaviewer May 24, 2012 (11:41 pm)

    You can argue the city should have recognized that the previous tenants were operating outside their license. (That building was permitted to have a snack bar and boat sales/rental. Not a bar and grill.

    Given that, the city couldn’t ignore it. They had to start from scratch and approve a restaurant at Seacrest Park. And that was a lot of red tape – for good reason.

    This is an extremely complex and sensitive piece of property.

    First, the property is in a city park. It’s fairly unusual to have commercial businesses in a public park. Not unheard of, but not common.

    Second, this park happens to also be West Seattle’s water taxi station which gives it real traffic concerns.

    Third and relevant now, it’s puget sound coastline (with a fishing pier) which is why the Dept of Ecology is involved.

    They got all the local stuff done (Health, DCLU, Seattle Parks) and now it’s the State’s turn.

    Realistically, Ecology probably doesn’t review a use proposal until the city and county approve it. So now that the city and county are OK with it, Ecology has to look at the implications for the shoreline. As they should.

  • on the hill May 24, 2012 (11:42 pm)

    could have seen this coming, build permit in a enviro sensitive area, you contractors out there know exactly what I am talking about… nothing but trouble,trouble,trouble… even if your in the bizz…
    good luck to all involved hope there is enough in the treasury chest, nothing but money from here on out for this piece of paper and that sign off over here and for god’s sake don’t do it out of order or they will send you to the back of the line

  • Yardvark May 25, 2012 (7:01 am)

    If one department doesn’t know what the other is doing, then it’s time to consolidate and eliminate. This process should be extremely easy to understand, even if remains complex and lengthy.

  • Craig May 25, 2012 (7:04 am)

    Another layer of red tape indeed. I own 2 small businesses, including a second location that opened this year. We nearly missed our opening when the building inspector came for the final and failed me because I didn’t have a “Rack Permit.” A what?! I asked him. A permit for the 6 foot tall wire storage racks I had put up. Apparently, because the rack legs, and not even the shelves themselves, exceeded 6 feet, I was required to get a permit he said. I contained myself and went immediately for the sawzall and cut the legs before he left.

    Yes We Can? No They Can’t! is how I see it.


  • Jordan May 25, 2012 (7:32 am)

    Too bad they aren’t proposing some really ugly condos to go in that spot. Seattle would have allowed them to start building them in a week. The city is really messed up on its priorities for permitting things like this.

  • KT May 25, 2012 (7:41 am)

    “Most of all, quit whining. There’s no injustice here.” Really? A restaurant operates unchecked for years (in a city park no less) and now a new tenant is told you cannot run a restaurant there without months of permitting. I certainly hope the Marination Mobile people have a lawyer reading Seattle’s solicitation for this concession with an eye to telling them forget it and suing to recover costs incurred and potential revenue lost.

  • Pender May 25, 2012 (7:43 am)

    Gotta say that DPD is the most incompetent of all the incompetent department at city hall. There is absolutely no sense of customer service. The story above about the rack permit is a common example of the kind of nonsense that is all too common.
    If I were Marination I would withdraw the application. I hope they aren’t paying rent currently. the city of Seattle should get stuck with this mess, it’s their creation.

  • Rick May 25, 2012 (8:07 am)

    Good thing they kicked out a successful business so they can wallow in their inefficiency. But hey, it keeps ’em in government sponsored daycare (jobs) so that can’t be all bad, right? I’ve owned a small business in West Seattle since 1978 and each and every year I consider relocating due to the hurdles this city,county and state confront me with. Maybe next year…

  • jiggers May 25, 2012 (8:11 am)

    This is what happens when you messed with my favorite place to eat fish and chips at. Now look at all the trouble you guys got. Summer is going to be gone and you still won’t be open. Bad karma when you messed with Jiggers favorite lunch spot.

  • Sam May 25, 2012 (8:18 am)

    It’s funny that there are so many comments on this tale yet not a one on the design review for the 7 story monolith that is going to change the Junction forever.
    Did anyone go?

  • NotMe May 25, 2012 (8:31 am)

    …and people wonder why it is so hard to fill a hole?

  • sam-c May 25, 2012 (8:42 am)

    I am as frustrated as any-one that this process isn’t running more smoothly, and got excited when I saw the land use approval come through the email. but am thankful for WSB for providing an update and the process. reading this it sounds like a few more approvals are in order, which is yes, frustrating. even more frustrating to know that Parks didn’t have these permits and approvals in place all this time, while another, similar operation was in place.

    but these are regulations put in place for a reason, explained well by Vee and Seaviewer.

    I think the ‘WSB trying to stir up controversy’ maybe comes from the use of the word ‘red tape” in the headline.
    semantics … but.

    from wikipedia.
    “Red tape is excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. It is usually applied to governments, corporations and other large organizations.”

    dictionary dot com: red tape- “excessive formality and routine required before official action can be taken.”

    different agencies have control over different aspects of this site, which make it more complicated than Marination setting up shop somewhere else, but I wouldn’t call it ‘excessive’ -these regulations are appropriate and necessary for a site like this.

  • cjl May 25, 2012 (8:50 am)

    Jesus Seattle, get sh*t together. Why does everything have so many hurdles in this city. Coming from a fed up native Seattleite.

  • George May 25, 2012 (9:08 am)

    What you call red tape others call due process. If you apply this in criminal proceedings people would just say, hey, everybody know he’s guilty, let’s just fry him and enough red tape.

    Somebody did not do their homework and now they’re blaming “red tape”. Please.

  • Ben May 25, 2012 (9:13 am)

    this delay is ridiculous.
    i have nothing constructive to contribute to the conversation, only adding my voice to the general wailing.
    i assume the rules being invoked exist for good reasons, and due to my ignorance of those reasons i can’t pass judgement on them. i can just say it’s a darn shame the net effect is that a business and a community are so negatively affected. sad.

  • datamuse May 25, 2012 (9:24 am)

    George, I think what a lot of people are annoyed about is that it looks like it was the city that didn’t do its homework–but Marination is the one suffering the consequences.
    Really, if additional permitting was going to be required I’d consider it reasonable for the concession solicitation to state that up front. As it is, it makes it look like the city doesn’t know what it’s doing.

  • Meghan May 25, 2012 (9:27 am)

    SOOOOOO typical. The city of endless process where you can’t get anything done. The county is even worse. Completely broken systems both. Ugh.

  • Anne May 25, 2012 (9:33 am)

    How about sending our comments to the city council & mayor as well as the WS Blog? We elected these people-if we don’t like how thngs are going-we should let them know. If we don’t like their response-don’t let vote for them next election.
    There are phone numbers at the respective websites as well.
    I’m contacting them all myself right now.

  • raincity May 25, 2012 (9:37 am)

    As other posters have said the process that is happening is not unusual. Parks and Rec not knowing what might be required and being transparency in the RFP process for a new prospective tenant is really unfortunate. The fact they got a land use decision so quickly is actually amazing – from following the links it was only two months from applying for the land use decision and getting it. Department of Planning and Development is trying to make this happen.
    Parks and rec expanded a permited use with out proper process – they would be the agency to press for questions.

    • WSB May 25, 2012 (10:06 am)

      Raincity – that was what Roz and Kamala said at the Alki Community Council meeting in April (coverage linked above), that they had had a summit meeting of sorts with Parks and DPD and had been promised an expedited review, two months instead of four.
      Chris – that has been asked and their answer is that the schedule is already jampacked – unlike some food trucks, we’ve noticed, they seem to have committed long term to specific spots – they’ve been serving 35th/Graham on Saturdays for almost three years now. – TR

  • chris May 25, 2012 (9:38 am)

    Why doesn’t Marination just pull it’s food truck up in front of the boat house?

  • owen May 25, 2012 (9:46 am)

    I feel the blame lies squarely with Parks for putting the lease out to bid for a use that was not permitted. They should understand the permitting status of their buildings. Marination should be compensated by Parks for the delay.

    I don’t blame DPD or Ecology for following the standard permitting procedure for evaluating whether a “new” use is appropriate for the shoreline. It should have been done long ago, but the fact that is occurring now is likely not their fault.

  • Jasperblu May 25, 2012 (10:03 am)

    What a joke indeed. I’m SO sorry for Marination – and all I can say as a fan of their fare, I’ll be there no matter WHEN – or WHERE – you open. Not that it’s much consolation. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. Wishing them the best through this additional hurdle of hell.

  • angie May 25, 2012 (10:09 am)

    Seems like reform is needed in the small business permiting process. I’m so disappointed because I’m hungry for Marination!

  • Myr-myr May 25, 2012 (11:23 am)

    Feels like someone else has their eye on the location and is managing to protract the vetting process to drain Marination’s resources and patience. Wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. Dirty, dirty business.

  • miws May 25, 2012 (11:54 am)

    Vee, Running a 24/7/365 newsite, with just two people for the most part, WSB has neither the time, the inclination nor the lack of ethics, to “stir up controversy”.



  • bridge to somewhere May 25, 2012 (1:03 pm)

    I call this a cost of doing business. Yes, there are local, county, and state processes that must be followed to run a business. Don’t like it? Don’t run a business. Marination is a *business* people; and according to their paperwork when they filed for this space, Marination is a profitable business at that. This goes into the cost of running a business, as it always has. Every business owner–particularly those who serve food IN a city-owned park NEXT to a sensitive body of water must know there will be some hoops to jump through. If not, they really don’t deserve to be in business.

  • yo May 25, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    To the Marination owner – run on the other dire tion as fast as you can, too much to loose here…

  • resident3 May 25, 2012 (3:27 pm)

    Good idea Anne.

    • WSB May 25, 2012 (3:31 pm)

      I do have some answers from the Parks Dept. and will add to the story as soon as possible. – TR

  • bob May 25, 2012 (4:51 pm)

    I am so glad I am moving away. This city it’s government and especially the Mayor have some major issues. A fish stinks from the head down….

  • NW Momma May 25, 2012 (10:04 pm)

    Marination- keep tight! We’ll support you when you open and you know the Hotel concierges will love to Send people your way via the water taxi! PS – us west Seattle people love to go to alki in the offseason. we will come!

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