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Kirkland Waterfront Demand Assessment

One of Kirkland’s greatest tourist attractions is our waterfront. We know that Kirkland’s downtown, the only downtown on Lake Washington, is a popular destination, especially for boaters.  In 2014, the City’s Tourism Development Committee (TDC) initiated a Waterfront Optimization Study which looked at how waterfront parks and areas could be showcased through events, tourism programming, and enhancing moorage.  At the request of the TDC, an expanded evaluation of moorage opportunities was prepared by BST Associates, (PDF 3864 kb) who conducted a demand study by interviewing boaters about their moorage, spending, and lodging habits.  BST’s findings were presented to the City Council on March 3, 2015 and to the City’s Park Board on February 11, 2015.

Outreach is now being extended to the community and boaters with a Community Update scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, 6 to 7:30 pm, Kirkland City Hall.

Key findings of the Waterfront Demand Assessment:

  • Boat sales in this region took a severe hit during the recession but the market is slowly recovering with sales steadily increased since 2009.
  • Currently there are over 25,000 boats registered within 10 miles of Lake Washington
  • There are 237 public transient moorages in Lake Washington. With 90 slips at Marina Park and additional moorage at Carrillon Point, Kirkland accounts for 64% of that inventory.
  • 82% of moorage users at Downtown Marina Park arrive from outside of Kirkland, 13% of moorage users arrive by land and use the boat launch, 5% come from other moorage facilities in Kirkland.
  • Cruise boat operators Argosy and Waterways are interested in separate docks that are protected from seasonal winds and weather with the hope that they also can keep boats in the downtown marina overnight.
  • There are a range of implementation measures to optimize the downtown marina, from relatively inexpensive strategies including better marketing and promotion, a reservation system to provide certainty about the availability of boat slips to boaters coming from long distances, to the more expensive addition of moorage and strengthening of existing moorage to accommodate large boats and withstand wind and turbulence.

As part of the assessment, a survey asking questions about Kirkland facilities was sent to 971 boaters and garnered 115 responses. Key findings include:

  • An average of 4.1 people are on-board boats visiting Kirkland
  • Across all boat sizes, there is an average expenditure of $150 on shore
  • Five percent (5%) of these visitors use overnight accommodations
  • Eighty-seven percent (87%) said they would use transient moorage in Kirkland if more were provided.
  • Several said that a reservation system would encourage recreational boaters to come to Kirkland because of the added certainty they would get a slip
  • Other suggestions for improvements included amenities such as power, restrooms, showers and a concierge service to help people get on and off boats safely
  • Infrastructure suggestions ranged from the low cost - better spacing of docks to improve circulation and provide space for more boats, renting of floats for seasonal moorage, to high cost - separating and fortifying cruise boat docks, and installing a breakwater

City Manager's Office
123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

General Inquiries
T. 425.587.3001 | F. 425.587.3019