West Bay eyesores on last legs

OLYMPIA – Demolition has begun on the old Reliable Steel property on West Bay, which caught fire in November.

Crews for Isaacson & Co. of Montesano will tear down two or perhaps three of the old buildings at 1218 West Bay Drive by the end of September, according to the city, erasing some of the last signs of industrial activity from West Bay.

Tom Hill, a city building official, said the city is requiring the owner, West Bay Reliable-0508 LLC, to tear down the property because it was “structurally unsafe.”

Local developer Triway Enterprises is managing the project for the owner, said Tori Cookson, office manager. She said there are no plans for the property,

Triway had proposed raising building heights to as much as 90 feet to allow 150 condominiums, 45,000 square feet of office space, 16,000 square feet of retail space, a restaurant, a waterfront plaza, a park and a trail on the property. But it dropped those plans in 2008 after neighborhood opposition.

Hill said the owner is working closely with the city, the state Department of Fisheries and the state Department of Ecology because of concerns about site contamination and effect on fish. The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency and state Department of Natural Resources have also been involved.

“We’ve all been working together to get all the pieces in place to take all those buildings down in a safe manner,” Hill said.

He said the city will ensure that no materials from the site end up in West Bay. The contractor has erected a silt fence, and booms may be placed in the water to contain any contamination. In addition, the city says a zodiac boat will be stationed in the water to capture debris.

It will be noisy for neighbors and there could be traffic restrictions on West Bay Drive as large equipment moves back and forth on the road, Hill said. The work will occur on weekdays from about 7 a.m.-4 p.m., he said.

Before its current ownership in 2008, the site was home to the Olympia division of Brown-Minneapolis Tank Northwest, a manufacturer of steel tanks. And before 1998, it was home to Reliable Steel, which occupied the site for decades.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869