Journal of the San Juan Islands


Insurance settlement elusive for fire-ravaged Spring Street Landing

November 27, 2013 · Updated 3:34 PM

Former Spring Street Landing tenant Brian Goodremont of San Juan Safaris, right, talks with US Rep. Rick Larsen about the company’s future in aftermath of the fire that ravaged the port-owned building. / Journal file photo

Don’t expect to see a new building rising out of the ashes of Spring Street Landing anytime soon.

Port of Friday Harbor Director Marilyn O’Connor said on Nov. 20 that “the target date to begin building construction is September 2014,” which would probably mean completion for a “new” Spring Street Landing Building in early 2015.

Three months after the fire that burned the Spring Street Landing Building, the Port and its insurer, Enduris Washington, are wrangling over the amount that will be paid for damages.

“We are very close in number but not close enough,” port Commissioner Mike Ahrenius said.

But neither Ahrenius nor O’Connor would confirm whether the amount of money was the only problem. Port attorney Frank Chmelik said only that, “the port is still in discussions with its insurance carriers.”

O’Connor said the commission wants to move ahead “as soon as possible”, and is waiting for one more investigation required for insurance discussions. O’Connor thinks that demolition will occur within weeks at an estimated cost of $60,000 to $80,000.

The fire started in an interior wall space in Downriggers Restaurant in the early morning hours of Aug. 17 last summer. It was apparently caused by electrical wires that had been exposed by rats chewing on insulation.

The sticking point appears to be how much Enduris would pay to replace or repair the building, which housed Downriggers Restaurant, Friday Harbor Marine and two other businesses. Two port commissioners have expressed a preference for replacing the structure, possibly moving it to the north to open up public access to the waterfront.

Neither the port nor Enduris would disclose the amounts of money involved, although Port Executive Director Marilyn O’Connor said that the insurer could not force the port to repair the existing building.

Sheryl Brandt, chief risk officer of Enduris said the port has replacement cost coverage on the Spring Street Landing building.

Brandt confirmed that means the insurer will pay to either repair the building or build a new building of the same size, features, fixtures and quality as the building that burned. If the building could be repaired, Enduris will pay repair costs; if not, Enduris will pay the cost of building a new building, she said.

Repair of the building might be less expensive, but waterfront permitting problems, the numerous remodeling and the intention of the port and the town to rebuild the bulkhead and put in a waterfront pedestrian walkway might increase costs beyond just repair. Enduris recognized some of these cost-increasing conditions, saying there has been “extensive discussion with the city building department and investigation into code requirements.”

O’Connor said the 2014 port budget includes some funding for building and seawall design and construction, but that the port would need a better estimate of construction costs before the commission can consider a budget revision.

The Port will hold a public meeting Dec. 3 for waterfront planning and Spring Street Landing design.


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