John Wayne Enterprises Inc., is putting together options for redevelopment of John Wayne Marina and 105 acres the company owns next to the Sequim Bay facility.
The Newport, Calif.-based company, run by the late actor’s family for protecting the John Wayne brand, has hired Heartland LLC, a Seattle real estate advisory and investment firm, to study alternatives for the public marina, owned by the Port of Port Angeles, and the adjacent 105 acres John Wayne Enterprises (JWE) owns.
Heartland will report back to JWE by the end of May, according to John Wayne’s son, Ethan.
Wayne outlined JWE’s plan in an email on Feb. 26 to port Executive Director Karen Goschen a day after meeting for two hours with Goschen, port counsel Brian Wendt and port Director of Property, Marinas and Airports John Nutter.
They got together at the Seattle office of the international law firm Perkins Coie, which JWE has hired to represent its interests as the port decides on the marina’s future.
“Heartland will be reviewing existing information, proposing alternatives, and working with John Wayne Enterprises to identify feasible redevelopment strategies,” he said.
Visions of what might be next for the 300-slip facility, including who owns and manages it, will be outlined in “conceptual models” contained in reports from interested parties both public and private, and presented Dec. 10 to port commissioners at a public meeting.
Port Commissioners Connie Beauvais, Colleen McAleer and Steven Burke reviewed a draft request for information (RFI) for the conceptual models on Feb. 27 at a special meeting.
The RFI “asks the question, is there a better alternative to port ownership of John Wayne Marina given all the stakeholders involved,” John Nutter, port director or property, marinas and airports told them.
“We are asking the very broad question for any interested parties to bring a conceptual model to us.”
Commissioners are expected to approve the RFI March 12 after the public reviews it. The draft RFI is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-MarinaRFI, beginning on Page 29 of the Feb. 27 agenda.
Burke said the port Marina Advisory Committee will review the proposals.
“I’m excited to see which ones rise to the top,” he said.
Commissioners will decide after Dec. 10 if any of the proposals warrant requests for more details. If so that could take several months to complete, according to the RIF.
JWE has insisted that the port retain ownership of the marina, built on land at Pitship Point that John Wayne donated to the port in 1975 for a marina and which was transferred by his family to the port in 1981. The marina, built by the port, was dedicated in 1985.
Port officials have guaranteed the facility will remain public.
But contrary to positions held by John Wayne Enterprises and the city of Sequim, commissioners have remained open to reviewing ownership proposals from businesses, nonprofits and tribal entities.
Private marina developers and the city of Sequim have expressed interest in owning or managing the facility, which port officials say needs $22 million infrastructure upgrades beginning in 2035 that the port can’t afford to make.
The city of Sequim is exploring an ownership-management arrangement with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, a partnership that plans to respond to the port’s RFI.
“As we discussed, there are several parties who have expressed interest in the future of the marina and our property, which creates both complexity and opportunity,” Ethan Wayne said in his email to Goschen.
“Redevelopment of our property, in conjunction with the marina, could be a catalyst for creating significant economic well-being in the city of Sequim, Clallam County, and create a unique and lasting synergy.”
Heartland will look “at the range of feasible options with the goal of sorting through each [party’s] interests and identify alternatives,” Wayne said.
Goschen said Thursday she expects the RFI will be issued following the March 12 port commissioners’ meeting.
Wayne said in his email that the port would issue a final RFI this summer.
“We recommend that we coordinate with John Wayne Enterprises’ work with Heartland with the work that your team is doing with the RFI, such to the extent an RFI ultimately does go out, that it takes into account applicable information/learnings from our work,” Wayne said.
Goschen reiterated the March 12 RFI release date in her response to Wayne two days later.
Wayne, who has insisted that the port retain ownership of the marina, said last week in an email that he has no comment on the discrepancy and JWE’s plans for the future of its property or the marina.
According to the RFI, ownership and management models include transfer of ownership to a public entity such as the city of Sequim, transfer to a nonprofit, leasing to a marina management company, or “some combination of the above or other ideas that could meet the port’s objectives.”
The city of Sequim is holding to its position that tribal entities and nonprofits are not permitted owners of a marina under the city shoreline master program because they are not considered public agencies, City Manager Charlie Bush said in a Feb. 19 email to Nutter.
Bush said Feb. 28 that city staff will inform any potential developers of the marina of the restriction contained in the shoreline master program if they approach the city for information and will wait for the RFI process to play out.
“We are going to experience the process like everyone else,” Bush said.
“We will play our role as a regulatory agency,” he added.
The city and tribe are financing a joint study to assess the infrastructure at the marina.
“Before we work out the finer details with the tribe, we will be looking at the infrastructure, its useful life, what needs to be built, to determine what the true cost would be for anyone who owns it,” Bush said.
The report will be reviewed at a City Council meeting probably in May, he said.
Paul Gottlieb is a Senior Staff Writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.