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Monday, October 1, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Magnolia Marina Finally Afloat; Project Includes 1,170 Boat Slips

After nearly a decade of disputes and delay, the largest privately owned marina in the Pacific Northwest is being built in Elliott Bay at the foot of Magnolia Bluff.

Even before the Elliott Bay Marina opens in the summer, all of its 1,170 boat slips probably will have been leased, given the demand by many boat owners for close-in saltwater moorage. Waiting lists already exist for some slips.

The $41 million project will cover 58 acres of water and 11 acres of landfill along the beach below the bluff, about 200 yards west of Pier 91.

Three breakwaters will enclose the sailboats and power boats nestled at docks extending about 800 feet into the bay.

On the shore, one of the city's largest restaurants will be built, as well as a smaller one below. The complex will also include convenience and boating stores, a fuel dock, a clubhouse for Seattle Yacht Club members and offices for yacht brokers. The parking area will hold almost 900 cars.

The marina taking shape is another indication of the passion for pleasure boats in Western Washington. There are more than 37,000 moorage slips now, and long waiting lists for spaces at marinas, public and private.

The Elliott Bay project was nearly scuttled during eight years of controversy. A lawsuit filed by the Muckleshoot and Suquamish tribes, charging that the marina would wipe out kelp beds critical to young salmon and the Indians' traditional fishing waters, stopped work for almost two years, until a settlement late last year.

During the delay and uncertainty, all but one of the partners in the project dropped out. But a corporation was formed to proceed with building the marina. The agreement with the tribes, which developers say guarantees the tribes millions of dollars over many years, removed the last legal obstacle to construction.

Georgia George, chairwoman of the Suquamish tribe, says the agreement strikes a balance between development and protection of the environment.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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