By Heidi Zemach for SCN
Raibow Fiberglass & Boat Repair LLC, a business on Alameda Street, an alley off Port Avenue, north of Seward Fisheries is doubling its business, and needs some additional property to expand into. The company, owned and run by David Phillips, a commercial fisherman who has owned the company in Seward for the past two years, is proposing to lease a rectangular gravel lot, a third of an acre in size vacant land from the City of Seward at SMIC. The parcel, known as Lot 4, Block 3 at the Fourth of July Creek subdivision is available for $2,000 plus tax each year. It’s east of Nash Road between Jellison Avenue and Mustang Avenue, and there have been no known business activity there in the past three years. It either has access to, or has the potential to access city public water, sewer and electricity systems, and TelAlaska telephone service.
Phillips is installing a large indoor repair building on his main property, off Port Avenue, which will allow for increased repairs during the busy winter season, but will take away from his outdoor yard space. The company is a fiberglass repair facility that also does fiberglass, welding and paint jobs, mostly on smaller commercial boats, sailboats, and yachts. It employs 10-15 people, repairs about 72 vessels during the wintertime, and averages 600 invoices a year, Phillips said. It’s not a very big company, but there’s too much work to handle at the current location, he said. He also has worked at the much more lucrative Seward Ships boatyard at SMIC.
The proposed lease of this small rectangle of undeveloped city property at SMIC is “nothing ground shaking,” but is consistent with the city’s plans to develop greater industrial uses at SMIC, and demonstrates what city administrators have told the public all along—that industrial development there will be an incremental process, not overnight, said Assistant City Manager/ Development Director Ron Long. Raibow’s lease continues in the tradition of some of the other lease arrangements that the city already has in that particular area including a commercial fish processor, Communications North, Alaska Logistics, Shoreside Petroleum, and it’s at or near where Dan Lowery’s former ship repair site was, he said.
There’s increased public interest in economic development occurring at SMIC, especially as opportunities begin to open with the coming of a new, multi-million dollar protective breakwater, harbor dredging, and harbor/slip extensions planned for the area. The possibilities for vessel-related businesses here seem likely due to increased international shipping interest in the Arctic, which is opening, new Arctic oil development, the home porting of Coastal Villages’ commercial fishing fleet from Seattle in Seward, and the home porting of the research vessel Sikuliak.
The City Council will vote on the lease following a public hearing at its June 24th meeting. The parcel was appraised by MacSwain Appraisals, LLC in March of 2010. The $2,000 annual lease rate is based on eight-percent of the land’s fair market value of $25,000. It will be reappraised in 2015, and the rent will be adjusted accordingly. The lease with the city will be for five years, but could be extended to up to 35 years, Phillips said.
Boat repair businesses, especially Seward Shipyard, have come under some public scrutiny and lawsuits by citizen’s environmental groups. The industrial activity is occurring in a scenic Alaska Resurrection Bay location across the bay where salmon spawn in nearby creeks, and where people from across Alaska visit every summer to fish for a variety of salmon species off nearby public beaches.
The lease agreement is 24 pages long and sets forth a variety of conditions, including that the company must meet all environmental permit requirements and regulations that apply to its operation by the state and federal government agencies and by the city. It must immediately report all dealings with those agencies, including reports sent to them on spills and waste disposal. In a letter to the city supporting the lease, Phillips promised that his company would do so, and that Raibow will monitor storm water runoff into existing ditches and maintain clean water runoff from the leased site. Any, and all spills will be immediately cleaned up, he said. The company may do bottom painting on vessels, and will lay down appropriate ground cover while sanding and painting, and dispose of it in compliance with city regulations, Phillips said. He has no immediate plans to store or use barrels of oil, fuel or fiberglass material on the leased property but will maintain a clean and orderly storage yard, he said.