How’s that Kitsap Conference Center expansion coming?



August 9, 2014 will be the biggest day ever for the Kitsap Conference Center. The Kitsap Wine Festival, which drew 900 people to the Harborside Fountain Park, will be in full swing that day, as will a wedding with a guest list of 125 and a fundraiser with 400.

But let’s rewind a bit. Last year, the Bremerton City Council approved, by a close vote, a 7,000 square foot expansion of the conference center into its neighboring building (one Kitsap Transit owns). Paid for with $400,000 from the Kitsap Public Facilities District, a $500,000 loan from the city of Bremerton and $200,000 from Kitsap Transit (earmarked to replace the elevators).

The expansion’s construction, on the top floor of the Bremerton Harborside building, began in late November last year. On Thursday, Conference Center General Manager Arne Bakker took me on a tour.

Crews from Jones & Roberts of Olympia have put in new walls, plumbing, lots of electrical equipment and an HVAC system (in fact, if you’re downtown Saturday, watch for the crane installing the central HVAC equipment).

“Basically, it was a shell with a hallway,” Bakker said of the space prior to the work.

Left to do is flooring, window covering, the ceiling tiles and other electrical work. Crews began renovating the elevators Monday, Bakker said.

Regardless of what they put in, the views up there are pretty stunning (pictured).

They’ve even named the new “breakout” rooms. “Glacier Cove” with space for 100, overlooks the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, while “Marina Vista,” with capacity for 250, overlooks, well … you know.

Bakker is confident 2014 will be a “year of building” and believes reservations will pick up incrementally. “There’s been a lot of interest but people want to see a finished product,” he said.

Bakker, an employee of Columbia Hospitality — which runs the center on behalf of the city —  believes construction will wrap up in mid-March. It has to, because the first event there, a wedding, is slated for March 22.

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