SAFE Boats still uncertain whether it will stay

SAFE Boats International builds military vessels like this 39-foot Riverine Patrol Boat at the Olympic View Industrial Park.   - Courtesy photo
SAFE Boats International builds military vessels like this 39-foot Riverine Patrol Boat at the Olympic View Industrial Park.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Leaders for SAFE Boats International have not yet decided if they should continue renting space from the Port of Bremerton at the Olympic View Industrial Park, after the company’s lease expires in July 2012.

The company is poised to outgrow its current facility if it wins a contract for “the next generation of coastguard boats,” said Port Commissioner Bill Mahan.

“If they win that, and they’ll know within the next eight to 10 months, they’ll need more space,” he said.

And not just a little.

“They’ll probably have to double it,” Mahan said.

The port has already started working with SAFE Boats to figure out what it would take to keep the company around.

“As the average size of boats continue to increase, the ability to effectively move the boats around the shop has become a growing priority,” said Scott Peterson, SAFE Boats International’s CEO.

The port commissioners have come up with a proposal “to accommodate their facility needs,” which include a facility that’s twice as big as the current space SAFE Boats is renting, Mahan said.

The port has also agreed to lease and renovate the Water Street Boat Launch in Port Orchard, which SAFE Boats International frequently uses.

The port will rent the launch from the city of Port Orchard for $1 per year for 15 years, maintain it and invest around $400,000 for initial structural repairs.

Even so, SAFE Boats hasn’t committed to stay in the area.

“Last week, we signed a revised lease that combined our four existing leases into one, expiring in July of 2012,” said Scott Peterson, SAFE Boats International’s CEO. “This allows us the time to better identify our future facility needs in terms of space utilization, ergonomic layout and size requirements.”

But Mahan thinks they’ll stay.

“I just think that we have a really good chance,” he said. “I think they’ve responded really well to what we’ve done, and we have a really good chance to keep them around.”

SAFE Boats International has rented Building 5, the port’s largest building, for 11 years.
It’s 62,500 square feet and SAFE boats pays 36 cents per square foot each month, or $22,500 total each month for the building.

The company also pays about $1,466 per month for other buildings at the port’s industrial park, and it pays about $7,000 per acre per year for use of port property.

SAFE Boats International has requested the port extend the lease of the largest building for one year, expiring June 30.

But regardless of whether SAFE Boats continues to rent space at the port after that, the company’s top three goals haven’t changed, Peterson said.

Those include:

• continuing to providing good jobs for its employees;
• continuing to building the boats the military use to defend the country; and,
• “to have our community be as proud of us as we are of being a part of this community.”

SAFE Boats employs about 300 people locally.

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