KGY radio studios might get reprieve

OLYMPIA - The historic KGY radio studios that overlook Budd Inlet potentially have received a new lease on life after the Port of Olympia commission voted this week to explore a new, long-term lease for the station as well as possible improvements to the KGY building.

The KGY decision was one of several steps the port commission acted on related to NorthPoint, the 2.4-acre parcel at the north end of the port peninsula that has been identified for development. On Monday, the port commission voted 2-1 to:

 • Explore a long-term KGY lease.

 • Enter into exclusive negotiations for one year with an option for a second year with MJR Development, the Kirkland-based developer selected by the port.

 • Finalize an agreement with the state Department of Ecology so that the port can secure funding for cleanup and capping of some of the NorthPoint property, the last piece of the former Cascade Pole wood treatment plant.

The commission also was presented with a third option for possible development on NorthPoint, based on public comment gathered at three open houses in October. The first two options are a three-story hotel with an adjacent restaurant, a three-story, mixed-use office building with an adjacent restaurant, and the third is a hotel and restaurant combined into one building. It also would be set back farther from the waterfront than the other proposals and adds more landscaping and a larger public area along the waterfront, according to information provided by the port.

Although KGY general manager and longtime on-air personality Dick Pust did not attend Monday’s port commission meeting, he said he was excited by the port’s decision, adding that it gives the station more certainty about its future. KGY has occupied a two-story building on Port of Olympia property since 1960.

“My impression is that we would stay here and it gives us some opportunities to improve the facilities without changing the historical nature of the building,” Pust said.

Pust and Kari Qvigstad, the port’s marketing and business development director, said a meeting has been scheduled with the port and the owners of the station to discuss the lease and other factors involving the KGY building, such as the integrity of the piers that support the studio and other possible tenant improvements. “We’re exploring what it would take to keep them on the site,” Qvigstad said.

Commissioners Paul Telford and Bill McGregor voted Monday in favor of the next steps in the NorthPoint process, while Commissioner George Barner voted against them. Although Barner is in favor of helping KGY, he has other concerns about NorthPoint, he said Wednesday. He doesn’t think NorthPoint is the right destination for a hotel, especially if another hotel is built on the port’s East Bay site, and it competes with a possible hotel on NorthPoint, Barner said. Rather, he wishes the NorthPoint development would emphasize public amenities, such as a place for a maritime museum or a longhouse for the American Indian community.

“It’s just been a wonderful public access point,” he said about the NorthPoint area. “It’s not a park, but it’s something for citizens to come out and enjoy.”

A decision on NorthPoint is not expected until next year and there will be more chances for public comment as the port refines its plans with MJR Development, Qvigstad said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403