Price increase in exchange for extending purchase-and-sale agreement dooms Lakebay Marina deal.

The Recreational Boating Association of Washington’s Marine Park Conservancy announced on Tuesday that an effort to acquire the historic Lakebay Marina on the Key Peninsula, and preserve it as a publicly-held boating-and-recreational jewel for decades to come, will fall through as a result of an effort by the current property owner to hike the purchase price by more than 250 percent in exchange for granting an extension.

Bob Wise, the President of the RBAW Marine Park Conservancy Board, a 501©(3) organization formed to preserve cherished marine natural resources in our state, said of the deal:

“I’m incredibly saddened to report that the acquisition of Lakebay is not going to be able to move forward. But we cannot in good conscience agree to those in terms — in the middle of a global pandemic, no less — with a requirement to raise the purchase price of Lakebay from $1.24 million to $3.135 million. We will be forced to let our purchase-and-sale agreement lapse on Sept. 30.”

The RBAW Marine Park Conservancy first negotiated the acquisition of Lakebay in September 2019. The Building that houses the marina is on the Pierce County Register of Historic Places, and the marina itself has a colorful history dating back 135 years to the days of the storied “Mosquito Fleet.” Lakebay has variously been used as an egg and poultry warehouse, as a dance hall and community gathering place, and as a marina for several decades.

But Lakebay fell on hard times and a sale was agreed to after electrical code violations, a near default on its aquatic lands lease with the Department of Natural Resources, and a series of building, safety, and health code violations. The RBAW Marine Park Conservancy sought to purchase the site, work with the state on upgrades to the marina facilities, and ultimately turn the historic property over to a state natural resource agency — with Washington State Parks as a primary objective due to the marina’s adjacency to Penrose Point State Park.

The RBAW Marine Park Conservancy went about the process of raising funds for the Lakebay Marina Acquisition, with the effort gaining significant momentum when Pierce County ($250,000 allocation spearheaded by County Councilmember Derek Young) and the State of Washington ($100,000 allocation through the 2020 Supplemental Capital Budget, with help from 26th District lawmakers) earmarked funds toward the acquisition. Another $70,000 was raised from private sources.

That said, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, fund-raising from outside sources became extraordinarily difficult, and the RBAW Marine Park Conservancy had to seek a 1-year extension of the purchase-and-sale agreement with current Lakebay owner Mark Scott. The Marine Conservancy Board offered Mr. Scott a $25,000 cash increase for Lakebay, and an additional $25,000 deposit into an earnest money account, as part and parcel of a request for a 1-year extension. Mr. Scott, however, came back with a counter-offer that would have granted the Conservancy a four-year extension and the ability to pay in installments — but with the aforementioned purchase-price spike of nearly $2 million.

The price increase requested for Lakebay, during the pandemic, forced the RBAW Marine Park Conservancy to let the Lakebay purchase-and-sale agreement lapse at the end of the day Wednesday (Sept. 30), even though the Conservancy had worked on a grant-funding strategy with the Recreation and Conservation Office, DNR, and State Parks that could have put all the parties in excellent position to finance the acquisition under a 1-year extension.