Pontoon site worth “zero dollars”; sits vacant after a year

It has been 1 year since the SR 520 Bridge opened in Seattle, but the local casting basin site that was used to build the pontoons that make up the bridge remains empty and unsold.

A “Highest and Best Use Industrial Study” By Nichols Marine Services for the 50+ acre site that was decommissioned in 2015 says that the location may not be worth anything.

Nichols Marine Services was hired by the City of Aberdeen to prepare the analysis for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s, inspecting the site and reviewing documents related to the project.

According to the report, the highest and best use industries identified for the site were all found to be in the marine industry:

  1. Marine vessel, repair and modification;
  2. Marine vessel, new construction; and
  3. Marine vessel, decommissioning or ship breaking.

No matter who may purchase the site, Nichols Marine says that several modifications would be needed before any industry could effectively use the site.

Modifications to hold a marine vessel business they say “are expected to total approximately $12.5 million. It is also expected that from the time the land is purchased, to the time an industry would be ready to open for business would likely be about 16 months.”

The study says that “because site modifications are necessary for any marine industry, the value of the site in its current configuration has been set at zero dollars.”

They continue to say that “Having to pay a positive value for this SR 520 pontoon casting basin site would likely render the site undesirable and cost prohibitive to potential buyers.”

Even if a marine vessel business were to purchase, Nichols Marine says that because of how the facility was built, the current cement floor would need to be removed and the level lowered for traditional boat traffic.

“Unfortunately, there is no easy site modification to address this issue. It would require the surface level of the basin to be multiple feet lower than it currently is. The cost for making this modification is likely prohibitive for any future industry, as it would require the removal of the concrete basin floor. Modifications would also require at a minimum, existing piling modification, or at a maximum, additional pilings that would need to be driven in and around the existing pilings. This kind of substantial modification is likely to cost in excess of $5 million, making it an extremely undesirable option.”

No official price has been set for the land and released to the public at this time.

Several options have been proposed for the site during local meetings, many of which would include filling the casting basin and using the area as traditional industrial zone land.

Permits for construction on the site were issued in 2011 and the site was decommissioned in 2015.


Pontoon Feasibility Study 2017




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