CWB site on north Lake Union opens

The Center for Wooden Boats' new facility on the north end of Lake Union includes a storage yard and a warehouse. Photo by Dan Leach

After years of planning and months of hard work, The Center for Wooden Boats will officially open its new space on the north shore of Seattle’s Lake Union tomorrow.

The opening will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 4 at the site, located at 1475 N. Northlake Pl. In proper Northwest style, a bottle of Fremont Ale will be broken to christen the property, which includes a warehouse and storage yard. CWB staffers will be giving public tours until 7 p.m. and also on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CWB staff and volunteers have spent the past five months working on the site, a former marine fuel facility. They removed 6,000 pounds of trash, ripped out scores of blackberry bushes and fenced off the property. They replaced the warehouse’s old roof, installed new windows and doors, repaired framing and walls, rewired the building and painted it inside and out.

The new site gives the center more room to store and work on boats – the storage yard is about one-third of an acre and the warehouse is around 5,000 square feet, eight times bigger than the floating boatshop at CWB’s headquarters on the south end of the lake. The boatshop is unable to accommodate boats bigger than 12 feet, requiring larger vessels to be hauled out and taken elsewhere.

“There are programs we can’t run and boats we can’t fix because we’re out of space,” CWB Executive Director Betsy Davis said recently. “This starts to address this problem.”

The CWB signed a five-year lease in December with King County to take over the space, agreeing to make improvements to the site in exchange for a lower monthly rate.

In 2005, a task force on maritime heritage recommended that the site be used a working historic shipyard that would provide public access to Lake Union. Plans were made to create the “Northlake Community Wharf” on the site, where CWB would offer classes and boat rentals and restore, maintain and display historic ships.

CWB still hopes to establish the community wharf and is working with various agencies to address environmental issues at the site.

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