The Boats Afloat Show, formerly known as the South Lake Union Boats Afloat Show, is officially moving to the Port of Everett come September 2020. The decision to move the show was recently announced by the Board of Directors of the Northwest Yacht Brokers Association (NYBA), the organizing force of the 40-year-old event. Boats Afloat will continue at Chandler’s Cove like normal next year.
According to a newsletter penned by Bonnie Robertson, the Executive Director of NYBA, tenants of Chandler’s Cove Marina received a hand-delivered letter in late September from Vulcan, the property owner. The future of the property has been in flux in recent years as Vulcan has expressed a desire to develop the property. To what? It remains unclear, but whatever it is, it doesn’t involve the boating-oriented businesses that currently exist there who’ve been asked to leave.
Not only is this a blow to the heart of Seattle’s marine industry, but removing the moorage makes the Boats Afloat Show impossible and the Seattle Boat Show (the largest such show on the West Coast) will no longer be able to use the location as one of the three in-water sites.
The Vulcan letter stated, “Given the restrictions and complexities of waterfront development, we still do not have a definitive timeline for the redevelopment and/or renovation effort; however, we are committed to maintaining a vibrant waterfront amenity for the city of Seattle and our target plans currently incorporate existing uses on the site, including office and slip space for yacht brokerage firms.”
Robertson continued in her newsletter, “They [Vulcan] expect to have a better idea regarding a timeline in the next three months, which means there is a good chance that another lease extension may be offered.” The Seattle squeeze, resulting from the unprecedented boom of the last decade, has put the pressure on all land use, and the valuable waterfront is in short supply.
“It is no secret that Seattle is facing some growing pains – accessibility, affordability, and space are at the forefront of my concerns,” said Robertson. “The Port of Everett is an exciting opportunity for change. With it will come a brand-new marina, a host of amenities to include fine dining and luxury hotels, ample (free!) parking, a gorgeous park-like setting, and much more space to allow us expansion for trailer-boats, tenders, and booth displays.”
The Boats Afloat Show has promising numbers to back it up. The last show in September 2018 drew a reported 7,000 attendees, 200 boats on display, and a VIP industry night with over 1,000 high-profile people. Clearly, the show has momentum. The timing for the Everett move is also fortuitous as a recently announced $6.5-million development investment in the Port of Everett was announced in September.
The construction, which includes new facilities, should be completed by September 2020, making what is widely considered the largest public marina on the West Coast even more boat friendly. The lesson here may be that if Seattle doesn’t want boating business, there’s plenty of excellent cities on Puget Sound that will be happy to host.