A yacht manufacturer now leasing space from the Port of Tacoma wants to buy land elsewhere on the Tideflats and has applied for $10 million in revenue bonds to make the move.
A new location would allow Northcoast Yachts to increase its work force, said owner Stephen Yadvish.
Northcoast Yachts builds megayachts and high-performance speedboats. It leases space in the Earley Business Center, which is on the tip of the peninsula between the Blair and Hylebos waterways.
The yacht builder’s current home is in the path of the port’s plans to develop shipping terminals on the east side of the Blair. Businesses in that area have been on notice for more than a year about the expansion plans, and the port had been talking with Northcoast and other yacht builders about leasing space from the port on the Thea Foss Waterway.
Port senior director of real estate Bob Emerson said Thursday that “the port’s main interest is that people end up with a good functional home that works for them.”
Yadvish said Monday that he wants to own the land he’s building on so he can grow his business.
“I’ve been in Seattle for 22 years, and took this over in 2003,” Yadvish said. “I think we can grow, into military and commercial (contracts). I’ve invested a lot of tools and equipment and teaching these guys how to do this stuff. … Hopefully in a year we’ll have 100 to 150 employees.”
The Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County is working with Northcoast Yachts on the issuance of industrial development revenue bonds, which are financed by bondholders and issued through an arm of the EDB.
“One of the key things is there’s no public money here,” said Susan Suess, EDB vice president. “The revenue bond program is a federal program that is designed to encourage manufacturing and production that create jobs.”
Manufacturing brings money into the local economy, Suess said, instead of recirculating existing money. Yadvish said that most recently he’s had people from Europe and Texas interested in his yachts.
“Northwest Yachts is ideal,” Suess said Wednesday. “They’re the kind of company we want to grow here. They have global clients. They really are artists and artisans in designing and crafting these well-appointed, well-finished, comfortable yachts.
“So you have the creative entrepreneurial side with the fine product they put out, and they also have the practical side – they fabricate their own parts,” she said. “They have very skilled workers.”
Before bonds can be issued, the applicant goes through a lengthy process that includes working with an investment-grade bank to get a letter of credit that backs the bonds in case of default. The issuance of the bonds also must be blessed by both the county and city councils as an indication that the applicant’s plans are consistent with community planning. A proposed resolution is expected to go before the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.
Northcoast wants to use the bond money to buy land at 1901 Taylor Way, where Buffelen Woodworking Co. is located, to construct two buildings totaling approximately 62,000 square feet and to purchase equipment.
Buffelen CEO Joe Guizzetti said Tuesday that Northcoast was interested in about 5 acres on Buffelen’s property, which is about 14 acres.
“We have no intentions of moving or relocating or doing anything other than what we’re doing,” he said. “They’ve only approached us with interest in buying the property. We’re considering it.”
Guizzetti wouldn’t say who will decide on selling the property or when that decision might be made.
Yadvish is optimistic about his business despite the recession, because buyers of megayachts aren’t as affected by economic downturns.
“These are people that have a lot of money,” he said. “I’m looking at the future, not what’s (going on) today. During the real depression is back when some of the finest yachts in the world were built.”
Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546