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Wanna buy a ferry? Historic Kalakala for sale for only a buck

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Dec. 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm with 22 Comments »
December 6, 2011 12:42 pm

She’s years past her prime and has been stashed in Tacoma’s Hylebos waterway since 2004, but the historic Kalakala ferry could be yours for only a dollar – and an agreement to restore her to something resembling her 1930s art deco glory.

Owner Steve Rodrigues recently reached out on the ferry’s website asking for a partnership to help in the restoration process. He told King 5 news that he lost his lease and has until Jan. 1 to move.

He is offering to sell shares in the venture to private investors to pay for a proposed $49.5 million overhaul and business plan. Here’s the pitch:

She has a new hull design with a shipyard to build it. She has a great potential private waterfront property site along I5 corridor. She has a State work permit for some exterior and all interior works. She has a site master plan that will assure the Kalakala, “World’s first Streamline Art Deco” ship future homeport waterfront development site.

Failing that, he’s willing to let the whole thing go for $1 – provided he can find the right owner.

We are seeking a qualified and motivated investor or buyer as alternatives to assure the full restoration of an incredible maritime historic ship with global social and cultural significances. Salvage companies not welcome!

The Kalakala has fallen a long way since it was launched in 1935. In its heyday, it carried 100 million passengers between Seattle and Bremerton, then was retired in the 1960s to become a fish processing ship in Alaska. Following an earlier failed restoration effort, Rodrigues bought the ship and moved it to Tacoma after getting evicted from Neah Bay. He’s proposed a series of plans to make the ship an attraction but none have taken hold.

As we reported earlier this year, concerns arose about the foundering ferry breaking loose and sinking into the waterway, causing environmental carnage. Rodrigues told King 5 that he since made repairs and righted the ship.

The Kalakala in better times - 1958
Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. NineInchNachosII says:

    anyone have a dollar I can borrow?

  2. bullman120 says:

    enough with this hunk of junk, take it out and sink it somewhere. make the fishies a nice home.

  3. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    I think the WSDOT should overhaul this boat for $50 million. Look at the union jobs it would create and dues that would go back to democrats.

    They are missing a golden chance here. Someone should plant this idea with Larry Seaquist.

  4. CrazyJim says:

    Sell it for scra. Pay someone to do it.

  5. tacomajoe says:

    Give it to the Chinese as a gift, for a million bucks.

  6. Drag it all the up next to the Lemay Car Museum, it would make a great auxillary display area or a parking garage.

  7. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Personally I believe the Kalakala should remain as is where is as a monument to the financial acumen, leadership and economic and budgeting savvy if our current Mayor and city council. In it’s current condition, the Kalakala represents them perfectly.

  8. m9078jk3 says:

    Sure Nine Inch Nachos I’ll lend you a buck.
    Lets have you do the artwork on this ship (we will fix it up) and rename it the S.S. Robert Hill.

  9. If the funding wasn’t there for restoration 10 years ago, then it definitely isn’t there now.

  10. Belatrix says:

    And oh my….there might be some fees involved for present and past moorage which have probably not been paid. Other charges involved? Most likely. The dufus arteest whopaid to tow her down from Alaska had good intentions. Several have tried to get taxpayer dollars. Not going to happen…ever. There may well be a private investor who sees a diamond in the mudd. Flash Gordon lives on….

  11. Clean it up, and deep six it along Ruston Way in about 75 feet of water. It’ll make a good artificial reef and scuba diving attraction.

    Its just not ever going to be sea worthy, and like the Luzon building and all those other money pit “treasures”, its number has simply come up.

  12. skinner says:

    fill it with illegals from the detension center and tow it south
    as a gift to mexico. tacoma city council could go along and stay

  13. I am afraid this Ferry has seen its day and this is sad as it was a great addition to the States Ferry Fleet at one time.Spending 50 Million to refurbish this hulk is just too much to ask of anyone.

  14. WELL – now is about the time that Bill Gates took a few of his millions and contributed to the history of Washington State – after all – Washington State has been VERY, VERY, GOOD TO HIM AND HIS COMPANY…..

    He will give millions and millions away to other locations and other countries….and he has done very little that I know of…..TO SAY THANK YOU TO WASHINGTON STATE….

    The least he could do…is fully restore the Kalakala….so it could tool around Puget Sound….THAT AS A TOURIST DRAW – would bring more people to the Seattle metro are and Washington State – than the Space Needle does anymore…..

  15. onetuffgrandma says:

    I think I saw this Rodrigues fellow digging in garbage bins outside the county / city building. He pulled a half-empty styrofoam cup of coffee out of a pile of trash, talked to it, and put it in the pocket of his worn-out overcoat. Then he laughed maniacally and shuffled down the alley.

  16. I can see the beautiful ferry floating in Thea Foss Waterway as a restaurant with a micro-brewery and lots of outdoor seating. Some enterprizing capitalist should jump on this bandwagon.

  17. For gosh sakes, why don’t some meth heads hit it and haul it to the scrapyard, and save us all the bother of continuing to have to deal with this piece of junk?

  18. c_hok_phan says:

    Hey NooWaay:

    Can’t argue with you that Gates sends a lot of HIS money to other locations, but if you check the record, I think you’ll see he has also contributed substantial cash to the UW, which last time I checked was in Seattle, WA, as well as other in-state projects.

  19. debbalee says:

    Deja vu…

  20. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Tell the metal thieves to have at it. It’ll be gone in a week.

  21. marilynofsd says:

    The lack of monies and creativity will keep this from ever succeeding.
    This could very well be a draw for Tacoma but once again Tacomans can’t
    see it and the people with money won’t support it. Too bad.

  22. Have ‘Earmark Patty’ shove it down the Navy’s/Coast Guard’s throats, like she did with Rich Martinson’s tubs from the Guardian Marine Co. The Silver Slug will get overhauled and eventually donated back to WA.

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