Port of Port Angeles delays its Maritime Trade Center design

Projected cost of 16,000-square-foot building over budget

PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles is stepping back for at least one year from pursuing a design of its Marine Trade Center project due to an unexpectedly high construction cost estimate.

Port staff recommended that port officials pause to look into additional funding sources to bring the project cost down.

“Staff does not recommend we continue with future phases of design until we can come up with a business case that would support the construction of the building,” Chris Hartman, director of engineering, told port commissioners on Tuesday.

The Marine Trade Center is envisioned as an industrial building capable of housing 175-foot vessels and the equipment necessary to haul these vessels out of the water for maintenance and repair.

The center also would house a multitude of marine trades as part of the Port of Port Angeles’ effort to expand maritime commerce.

The building would be constructed with pre-engineered steel with a single pitched roof while allowing space for a similar structure to be built in the future.

Port officials hired Carletti Architects as consultants to develop a design and associated construction cost estimate.

“We went in with a target construction cost budget of about $4 million as we worked with the consultants and we quickly learned that our idea of having a 30,000-square-foot building was not in the cards so we shrunk that down to about 16,000 square feet, designed in a way that it could be expanded to double that size in the future,” Hartman said.

Even after reducing the size, the estimated construction cost was $10.25 million, more than double the budget.

“So we went back to the consultant and asked for some engineering ideas of what could be removed to simplify and reduce the cost of the facility,” Hartman told commissioners.

“There’s a long list of items that we could remove. That cost estimate came back at $8.75 million,” he said.

Inflation and supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and other national and international situations have played a significant role in the high cost, he added.

“There are numerous factors that have played a role in the increased cost estimates. There has been a 25 percent increase in construction costs across the state. Material supply chain impacts, supply and demand for federal and state funding, and shortage of available contractors are all drivers of this cost increase,” Hartman said.

In stepping back, port officials will look at state and federal funding opportunities that could close the gap in the budget and estimated costs.

That search may take a year or more.

“We’re going to be searching high and wide for any available funding programs and opportunities,” Hartman said.

“There has been an influx of federal funds from the infrastructure benefit bills that have passed recently, and we have been working really diligently on finding and applying for those.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].

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