More Puget Sound-area foot ferries could cut travel times, new study says

Feb. 10, 2021 at 6:00 am Updated Feb. 10, 2021 at 7:40 pm

A commuter traveling between Renton and the University of Washington could save nearly a half-hour in travel time by boarding a passenger-only ferry on Lake Washington instead of taking a bus, a new study of possible foot-ferry routes says.

The study, released last week by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), was commissioned by the state Legislature to explore the costs, ridership projections and other considerations for expanded passenger-only ferry service on Puget Sound, Lake Washington and Lake Union.

The report did not examine funding sources, timelines for implementation or economic feasibility of new ferry routes.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, Kemper Development Co., Madrona Venture Group, NHL Seattle, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and Seattle Children’s hospital. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

From 45 initial suggestions, researchers narrowed their scope to seven routes, including four on Lake Washington and Lake Union. They are: Seattle-Tacoma, Bellingham-Friday Harbor, Whidbey Island-Everett, Kenmore-University of Washington, Kirkland-UW, Renton-UW and Renton-South Lake Union.

While passenger-only ferry service could offer faster and more direct connections than other forms of transit, researchers found that routes ending in Seattle would need more study because existing docks do not have capacity for additional service. More work also would need to be done to protect marine plants and animals.

The study did not suggest a governance structure to plan, fund, implement and manage any new route. Cities, agencies and municipalities would need to work together to identify a lead sponsor. They would also need to talk with tribal leaders about fishing rights and planning around culturally significant waterfront property.

The PSRC shared the findings with the Legislature in January, as required by earlier legislation. It will now be up to local leaders to decide how or whether to proceed.

Kenmore Mayor David Baker said he’s eager to bring passenger-only ferry service to his city and would work with the Metropolitan King County Council and other agencies to find funding.

“I have been fighting for a passenger-only ferry up here since 2008,” he said. “It’s something the community is pretty excited about.”

The County Council has set aside $500,000 in the 2021-22 budget for studying passenger-ferry routes that originate in Kenmore and Shilshole, said Elizabeth Evans, a spokesperson for Councilmember Rod Dembowski.

The four routes running within Lake Washington and Lake Union would be commute-focused, with year-round service five days per week. The ferries could help commuters avoid the Interstate 90 and Highway 520 bridges.

A route between Bellingham and Friday Harbor would be seasonal, serving tourists and San Juan Island residents.

A ferry between Kirkland and the UW is projected to be the busiest route studied, carrying nearly 150,000 riders annually and costing about $1.8 million a year to operate, the study said. The Kenmore to UW route could serve 130,000 passengers a year at a cost of $2 million to operate.

Sailings from Renton to South Lake Union are projected to serve nearly 50,000 riders annually and cost about $3.3 million to operate.

Smaller vessels could carry 118 passengers per trip, while larger vessels could handle more than 250 passengers, according to the study.

The report did not determine whether the routes would be economically feasible or how the routes would be funded, said Gil Cerise, who works in transportation planning at PSRC. The authors did not determine whether ferry service should be publicly operated, privately run, or some combination of the two.

The King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit’s Foot Ferry and Fast Ferry, which operate in the area, are public entities that provide boats and crews for operations.

During pre-pandemic 2019, the King County Water Taxi served about 444,000 riders between West Seattle and downtown, and about 258,000 riders between Vashon Island and downtown. Kitsap’s service carried about 302,000 passengers between Bremerton and Seattle in 2019 and about 175,000 passengers from Kingston to Seattle. Kitsap also operates service from Bremerton to Port Orchard.

Although transit ridership declined in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cerise said PSRC did not drastically adjust future ridership projections.

“We still think demand and ridership will come back,” he said. “But we consciously stayed away from time frames.”

Kristen Kissinger, a project manager for KPFF, one of the consulting groups that worked on the study, said the pandemic pushed PSRC to move community outreach online. That led to an increase in participation; more than 10,000 people gave feedback about the routes.

A network of passenger ferries hearkens back to the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet that connected communities to downtown Seattle. The privately operated steam-powered vessels carried passengers from the mid-1850s until 1939.

The Tacoma-to-Seattle route, one of the most popular in the Mosquito Fleet, was among those studied. That route would provide an alternative to Interstate 5, serve more than 73,000 riders per year and cost about $4.3 million annually to operate.

Respondents to surveys conducted as part of the study expressed strong interest in the route, as did agencies in Tacoma. However, planners would need to find a landing dock in Seattle with capacity to handle the vessel. Pier 50, the existing space next to Colman Dock, serves four routes operated by King County and Kitsap Transit.

Kitsap Transit is expected to begin a new passenger-only route from Southworth to Seattle early this year.


Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport in Renton, Full Episode, KING 5 Evening

Thurs 1/14, Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport in Renton, Full Episode, KING 5 Evening

Author: KING 5 Evening (KING 5)

Evening ShowsFEATURING: Salmone’s Pizza in Tacoma, Coffeeholic House Vietnamese coffee in Seattle, Seattle artist Creative Lou profile, Heartwood Haven animal sanctuary, and more

Thurs 1/14, Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport in Renton, Full Episode, KING 5 Evening

Volume 90%

Tonight’s Episode Features — Doorbell Dinner and a Movie: Salmone’s Pizza in Tacoma, Coffeeholic House Vietnamese coffee in Seattle, Seattle artist Creative Lou profile, Heartwood Haven animal sanctuary, and What’s Up This Week. Angela Poe Russell hosts from Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport.




Pizza by the slice and sci-fi fun – Doorbell Dinner and a Movie – Pair takeout from Salamone’s Pizza in Tacoma with new movie ‘Save Yourselves!’

Coffeeholic House brews Vietnamese coffee in Columbia City – The Seattle coffee shop is the first in the city focused solely on traditional Vietnamese coffee.

Wellness and relaxation come easy at this lakefront hotel – Healthy fare, room to roam and a spa will help you reset. Sponsored by Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport

Seattle artist ‘Creative Lou’ blends genres to create eye-catching images – Animation, graffiti, and fine art serve as inspiration for his unique perspective.

Gig Harbor animal rescue finds new ways to raise awareness during COVID-19 – Heartwood Haven is an animal rescue and sanctuary – and due to COVID-19, they’ve found new ways to help support their rescue.

Couldn’t find what you’re looking for? KING 5’s Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.


Seco’s Michael Christ views Southport campus as region’s ‘next logical tech hub’

Seco hasn’t leased any of its 730,000 square feet of office space in the Southport area of Renton – but that didn’t stop the company from buying additional land in the area for $23.5 million earlier this year.

Seco’s founder and CEO Michael Christ sees big potential in the area.

“I recognized the unique locational characteristics and knew Southport was poised as the next logical tech hub to emerge for the Puget Sound,” he said.

What is your vision for the Southport area? Beyond its location on the waterfront, the existing infrastructure within and surrounding Southport could support a large-scale mixed-use urban development and sustain a runway for growth. The initial site was 27 acres with a seven-lane freeway exit leading to its front door and more highway and freeway connections than any site I had worked on in the past. In addition, there existed provisions for rare data and electrical power capacity and redundancies proving critical as we move further into edge computing and the electrification of vehicles. I have already begun to plan for the eventuality of autonomous vehicles here on site, including the initiation of a pilot route. Finally, I saw a unique opportunity along our private waterfront to initiate a water taxi program, with connections to cities around the lake, as an ecological and aesthetically positive alternative to single occupancy vehicles.


What, specifically, makes Renton poised for growth? With hundreds of acres of underdeveloped property, the Southport community represents the last significant large-scale urban redevelopment opportunity inside the Interstate 405, Interstate 90, Interstate 5 triangle. In addition, parcels within the district are large, contiguous and already zoned to support meaningful redevelopment.

Housing is a key issue for any large employer in Seattle metro. Renton has the region’s best housing stock with unrivaled affordability among other Eastside communities and diversity among its housing options. There are opportunities for housing growth to be balanced with office expansion within the district.

Has Covid-19 impacted Renton’s capacity for growth? Refreshingly, city leaders have come together with a priority of keeping the community and supporting us through the pandemic and the challenges we are experiencing. So no, I don’t believe Covid will have an impact on capacity.

If Covid has taught our industry anything it would be to have more of a focus on flexibility, wellness and innovative collaboration. And I expect corporations will smartly look to markets like Renton to have that flexibility to grow and expand along with health-forward amenities.

What drove your initial interest in real estate? No bar to entry.

Michael Christ

Company: SECO Development Inc.

Founded: 1989

Location: Renton

Position: CEO

Years in position: Since inception

Volunteer positions: Mostly supporting music and the arts.

Hometown: Seattle and NYC

Residence: Seattle

Family: Married with three children

Education: Stonybrook University — graduated with honors in philosophy with an emphasis in math.

Southport Office Campus

Podcast: Michael Christ, CEO of SECO Development – The Registry

As the owner and sole proprietor of SECO Development, Michael has experience in real estate development that stretches over three decades. He has been purchasing and building real estate since 1980, but he formed SECO Development in 1989 and has been developing mixed-use projects in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Renton.

As a principal in SECO, Michael is intimately involved in all aspects of development and is personally in charge of acquisitions and dispositions. He is involved in design, marketing, and financing while maintaining strong relationships with the cities in which he builds. SECO’s latest project is Southport on Lake Washington, which offers an impressive Hyatt Regency hotel on the shore of Lake Washington with another 730,000 square foot campus in its background. The development is surrounded by housing, retail and connections throughout the greater Puget Sound region.

Kiro 7 Seattle - Lake Washington Water taxi Southport

Developer proposes Lake Washington water taxi

KIRO 7 News Staff

RENTON, Wash. – State transportation officials will discuss possible water taxi routes from Lake Washington in Renton to tech centers in the region Tuesday.

A land developer envisions tapping Renton into local tech hubs by kickstarting a passenger ferry service that travels between destinations such as Seattle, Kirkland and Bellevue.

At 9 a.m. in Olympia, the State Transportation Commission will hear a plan from Seco Development.

Seco is developing SouthPort, an office/hotel complex situated on Lake Washington between Boeing’s Renton plant and the Seahawks Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

The company wants three $5 million-dollar catamarans, with two of them at a time running the morning and evening commutes with times of about 45 minutes to an hour. Tickets would be priced just below $10.

The company says it’s looking for area partners to help out.

More will be learned about the fate of the plan after Tuesday morning’s meeting.

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 10.24.08 AM

What’s the latest news about Southport’s office campus? KING5 Seattle shares an update on what’s happening here on South Lake Washington.


Development project aims to attract big tech to Renton

Jake Whittenberg

RENTON, Wash. — A new billion-dollar development at the south tip of Lake Washington is nearing completion, and project managers expect an announcement about a future big tech tenant soon.

Seco Development’s Southport mega-project in Renton includes residential, retail, commercial office space and a Hyatt hotel. But its 700,000 square feet of office space in three separate office buildings remains empty.

Rocale Timmons, senior vice president of planning and development with Seco, says the space is specifically designed for a tech company, and there is a lot of interest.

“Large tech tenants are thinking about ways they can grow responsibly, and you have to think about emerging markets like Renton,” she said.

The city of Renton has felt a growing resurgence in recent years when it comes to the local economy. Small and big companies in the tech sector are making Renton their home, including Wizards of the Coast, which created Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, and Bloqs, which builds websites.

Renton city officials also point out that private investment last year exceeded a half billion dollars.

“Anybody south of I-90 is going to be ecstatic for places like this,” said Jon Bye of John L. Scott Realty.

Bye pointed out that the Southport development is certain to improve home values in the area too.

“Not everyone wants to be in the city, and this gives a different feel than downtown Seattle,” said Bye.

Cities outside Seattle compete for tech companies to relocate

King 5 explores the opportunities for expanding companies at Southport

RENTON, Wash. — Amazon’s announcement that it will move several thousand employees from Seattle to Bellevue over the next few years is a reminder that there’s a lot of real-estate competition for tech companies and their workforces.

Some shiny new projects throughout the region hope to spur more moves and relocations with perks companies might not get in larger cities.

“We’re ready,” said Rocale Timmons, senior vice president of planning and development for SECO, which is about to open three towers of office space at the south end of Lake Washington in a project called Southport.

The complex includes a high-end hotel, conference center, shops, restaurants, and boasts panoramic views of the waterfront.

They haven’t announced any tenants yet, but hope to attract companies to a smaller city, eager to diversify its workforce beyond Boeing, which has dominated Renton’s economy for decades.

“Because of the warm political climate, we’re able to move at a fast clip to get additional office space going, in contrast to other communities in the region,” Timmons said.

In Bellevue, the Spring District development is designed specifically to help tech companies attract and retain talent, with new apartments, parks, a brew-pub, and a graduate academic institute focused on technology innovation.

The project is especially enticing because just steps away a new light rail station is under construction. The line is scheduled to open in 2023.

REI already announced it will relocate to the Spring District from Kent. Facebook plans to move in as well. Developers said there’s a strong need for the new space with office vacancy throughout the region near record lows.

But offices alone are not enough.

“They’re trying to get their employees happy and in order to do so they need that entertainment, that retail space, those restaurants. They need those amenities,” Timmons said.

Southport’s offices include bike and kayak storage, locker rooms with showers, the option of a rooftop helipad, energy-efficient infrastructure designed for technology businesses, and more than 11,000 feet of retail space.

The project will have seven to eight restaurants and is situated right next to The Landing, a sprawling shopping and dining plaza with a movie theater.

“We check a lot of boxes, that a Seattle and potentially even a Bellevue, don’t check,” Timmons said.

0148-SECO-Headshots-2016-Jerry-and-Lois-Photography (PRINT).jpg

SECO Development | Corporate Headshots | Nov. 2016

© Jerry and Lois Photography
All rights reserved 

Daring Women: Rocale Timmons, Senior Vice President of Planning and Development at SECO Development

Since joining SECO Development Inc. nearly three years ago, Rocale Timmons has played a key role in helping the company pursue its real estate development objectives as a senior executive in charge of planning and development. Renton, Washington-based SECO, founded in 1989, specializes in urban infill and high-end mixed-use projects.

Prior to joining SECO, Timmons served as a senior planner for the City of Renton, where she had to navigate many diverse and often competing interests involved with complex redevelopment projects. Timmons earned an undergraduate degree in economics and urban planning from the University of Washington and an MBA from UW Tacoma. As part of the latest Daring Woman interview, Timmons took some time to reflect on her career successes and challenges, her mentors and views on leadership, and she also shares some advice for women starting out in their careers.

Tell us about the high point of your career. What do you love about your work? Describe your proudest moment.

Having a positive impact on the built environment and the way in which we live, work and play is what I love most about my career. Before shifting to commercial real estate development, I was in the public sector for many years, as an urban planner. In that role, I experienced a significant number of proud moments, but the high point in my career path has definitely been my time working on the Southport Lake Washington development. The city of Renton is experiencing tremendous growth right now, and Southport is a major catalyst in that growth. I never take for granted the chance to contribute to this period of positive change.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in your industry? How have you addressed them?

The commercial real estate industry — especially development — is predominantly made up of white, middle-aged men. So, as a younger female executive, amplified by my being an African-American, I am an enigma of sorts. However, being an African-American female in commercial real estate hasn’t had much of an impact on my career, with the exception that there is sometimes an initial awkwardness around how my male counterparts interact with me. I don’t spend energy “proving” myself, but I do understand that it may take time for others to adjust to a different voice in the room. I count it as a teaching moment. I’m certainly learning every day. Sometimes, my presence alone helps to confront any perceived industry bias — unconscious or otherwise.

Tell us about a person who has inspired or mentored you. What key lesson did you learn from them?

My mom moved through the world with a God-given audacity and resilience I often attempt to mimic. I also credit a significant number of lessons to my brother and a core group of friends (mostly guys) from high school. They taught me the importance of loyalty, integrity, agility and humor. There really isn’t one meaningful past or present relationship that doesn’t inspire me to be a better human ― both personally and professionally.

What advice would you give to a woman getting started in her career?

Go fearlessly into rooms bigger than you. And once you get there: Be present and curious. Know you are at the table for a reason.

What can women do to improve gender equity in the workplace? What can men do?

Gender inequity in the workplace is a systematic problem not easily resolved — much like the racial and socioeconomic inequities in our society. However, I believe both men and women can take small yet meaningful steps to confront the status quo. Women in particular have to look beyond “the way things are,” and blaze their own trails. Here’s my advice: Go after that job promotion and negotiate for higher salaries. Most importantly, women should not be afraid to have hard conversations that challenge workplace biases in favor of men.

Both men and women in leadership roles can and should help to create inclusive environments where greater parity exists. First, they must identify the gender bias and then commit to solutions for improving equity. Whether that means changing hiring practices from the ground up, introducing workplace training (beyond sexual harassment), or even simply accepting female leaders, the first step is acknowledgement.

Tell us about a favorite book/show/podcast and why/how it inspires you.

Chris Voss’ “Never Split the Difference” is one of the more recent books I’ve enjoyed, and it has resulted in new methods for my negotiation style. The book is chock-full of practical lessons for negotiating. My favorite section of Voss’ book is where he states that there is a tremendous amount of space between a “yes” and “no” response, and that “no” is really just the start of the negotiation.

I also find myself returning time and time again to poems written by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet. His poems are not only inspirational but they’re both profound and digestible. A favorite: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

Where do you find support and inspiration? How important is networking and how do you expand your contacts?

I like that these two seemingly different questions were coupled together. While I never aim to network just for the sake of networking, I do focus a significant amount of energy on developing relationships, simply because I rely on them for both support and inspiration. I don’t just want a business card to add to my Rolodex. I prefer to be present and have a meaningful exchange, if only for a few minutes. And often, these brief interactions grow into rewarding, long-term connections.

What are the most important characteristics of a good leader? What leadership traits are overrated?

I believe the most valuable leadership trait a person can bring to a company is authenticity. Authenticity creates an environment where individuals feel comfortable bringing their own intrinsic qualities to the table. I also prioritize respect of others. I believe everyone on my team is my peer, even though we have different functions and responsibilities.

In my opinion, expertise is a generally overrated leadership trait. While it may contribute to good leadership, it isn’t a prerequisite. As a developer, I am often not the expert in the room, and I rely heavily on others — architects, attorneys, engineers, etc. — to inform my decisions.

What would you do differently in your career if you had a do-over.

The story of my career is still being written, but if possible, I would turn back a few chapters and enjoy the journey a bit more. Mostly, I would have liked to have been more patient with myself. I also would have liked to grant myself a little more grace to evolve.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Because I’m still unfolding my story, today’s title would be “The Prelude: My Heart Knew the Way.” Who knows what the title will be 10, 20, or 30 years from now! Naming the book is the furthest thought from my mind. I am most excited to write the pages.

We’d love to hear from more women across all industries who are challenging the status quo. Does it sound like you? If it does, click here and fill out our questionnaire. Feel inspired? Join us for our second Daring Women event on May 21, 2019.