In Manette, how the Boat Shed got its parking lot back

The parking lot can be seen at the upper left.
The parking lot can be seen at the upper left.

A small gravel lot has long provided the Boat Shed, Bremerton’s venerable restaurant on the shores of the Port Washington Narrows, a trove of additional parking spaces. 

But you might have noticed that the lot was closed off for a few years, until it was reopened in April.

What changed? The answer, which I’ve long sought to uncover, involves more than just a parking lot. Indeed, it encompasses much of the Manette business community.

Our story begins in 2010, when construction crews began using the lot — about 1/5 of an acre east the restaurant, just off East 11th Street — as a staging area for the state’s construction of a new Manette Bridge.

The Boat Shed, like just about every Manette business, struggled through the bridge’s construction and a second project renovating East 11th Street.

But the Boat Shed lost access to the gravel lot because, put simply, it did not own it. Kenneth Hills, the man who did, had provided the restaurant access to the lot for years.

Hills died in September 2012 at the age of 95. A gravel parking lot was definitely not the only piece of property he owned. Donn Hughes, a real estate agent tasked with disposing of his real estate, had met Hill several years before his death.

“He was definitely an unsung and active participant of the growth of Bremerton,” Hughes told me via email.

Hills owned spots in West Bremerton, Silverdale, Tracyton, and points in between. “He owned a significant part of lower Manette” as well, Hughes said.

Sales of his property has led to some Manette businesses to buy the properties they once leased from Hills. A prime example is the R*K Mart on Harkins Street. Upon buying the property, its owners have since made a number of improvements to the building.

The parking lot, meanwhile, was closed off and also put up for sale. The Boat Shed no longer had access to it.

Kathy Davis-Hayfield, who owns the Boat Shed with her husband Brett, said the restaurant tried to negotiate a purchase of the lot to no avail.

But they would get a helping hand from Paul McCullough, a Manette resident and retired Orthopedic surgeon who moved to the area in 1966.

I picked it up myself,” McCullough said of the parking lot.

While he is a fan of the restaurant, McCullough added that he has an interest in its success too. He told me he has a stake in the land upon which the restaurant is situated, though not in the restaurant itself. (That said, you can find the retired doctor there about once a week, he added.)

Records from the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office show the property sold for $105,000.

Davis-Hayfield said the restaurant is grateful for McCullough’s help.

“He knows the lot is key to our success,” she said, adding that it may also be paved at some point.

UPDATE: Steve Johnson sent me some photos (below) that better identify the location of the parking lot. Thanks, Steve!

BoatShed 1

Via Google Maps.
Via Google Maps.

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