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Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Kalakala Foundation sinks into bankruptcy

Seattle Times staff reporter

The board of the Kalakala Foundation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Friday after being served with an eviction notice by its Lake Union landlord, Professional Marine Company, or PMC.

“We’re freeing it from the anchor that has held it in place,” said Kevin Mason, Kalakala Foundation president since October, speaking of the ferry’s mounting debt.

The liquidation is an attempt pay some 20 to 30 creditors “as much as can be paid to them,” said Mason.

The list of creditors will be finalized in about a week and half.

According to Kalakala executive director Art Skolnik, in January, the foundation owed around $200,000 to vendors, plus about $1 million to its founder-turned-creditor, Peter Bevis, who was instrumental in early rescue efforts to rescue the ferry.

The Kalakala, built during the Depression atop the hull of a burned steamship, was part of the local ferry fleet from its maiden voyage on July 3, 1935, until being decommissioned in 1967. It was converted to a seafood-processing plant and later abandoned in Alaska.

It was hauled to the Seattle waterfront in 1998.

But after the initial homecoming fanfare faded, a series of circumstances — the dot-com crash, recession and Boeing layoffs — seemed to doom the Kalakala, docked at North Lake Union since March 1999.

Attempts to moor the ferry locally at South Lake Union, Lake Washington and Elliot Bay fizzled. Some considered the rusting ferry too far gone to be restored.

“We were not successful in portraying (the Kalakala) as a community icon,” said Mason. “There was a gap there; it just wasn’t embraced.”

On January 31, the foundation put the Kalakala up for sale in an attempt to raise cash to pay its debts. Although some individuals and entities were enthusiastic about buying and restoring the ferry, the foundation did not received any viable offers.

“There’s talk, you know,” said Mason. “Lots of people say ‘we’re interested’” but potential ventures never materialized.

Sarah Anne Wright: 206-464-2752 or swright@seattletimes.com

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