Category Archives: Development

Downtown Bremerton project ‘Spyglass Hill’ underway


I’m often asked about the Spyglass Hill development, a project that will add 80 apartments on Highland Avenue in downtown Bremerton. Since crews bulldozed the dilapidated homes there last year, the most frequent question about it I get is “When will construction start?”

Now, it turns out.

Late last week, the Earth movers started up above the Manette Bridge (see above photo). I happened to run into Wes Larson, its developer, last week at Great Peninsula Conservancy’s Spring Dinner, and so I had to ask. Yes, the permits are in hand and construction on the $15 million project has begun, I learned.

First up is attaching utilities to the property via Washington Avenue. You’ve probably noticed how there’s a gap in the retaining wall on Washington that used to be John Hoffman’s garage/storage space. Now, that gap is helping to provide crews space to underground the utilities into the project. Once that’s done, a new retaining wall will go up and that space will be filled in.

From there, the project will go up five stories.

Its original completion date was January 2016. I suspect that may be pushed back since construction didn’t start quite as early as anticipated.

Spyglass isn’t the only new apartment project going up downtown. You may have seen the 606 Burwell project, which is moving along for an opening date before the year’s up. There’s also designed projects that have not set dates for construction but are ready in theory. Those include “Evergreen Pointe” near the park and the Towers project off Sixth Street and Washington Avenue.

I’ll keep you posted as I hear more on any of these projects.

What Spyglass Hill will look like when it’s completed.


Bremerton’s bizarre borders

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On a map, Bremerton is a Tetris champion’s worst nightmare. Geographically, it’s filled with holes: West Hills, Gorst (for now), Navy Yard City. There’s even an island in Port Orchard.

In sum, it has quite a bizarre set of borders.

Since I took over coverage of the city for the Kitsap Sun in late 2012, I have been perplexed as to how it came to be this way. Each area, of course, has its own story — Rocky Point, anyone? — but here we are, an oddly-shaped blob of a municipality.

As we have seen in this past week, Bremerton is widely known as a much larger area. The postal code includes areas in Seabeck and at the Fairgrounds. Bremerton’s public works department also provides water to a larger swath of land than is the city.

You may have seen Sunday’s story about how Bremerton is actually barred by agreement from annexing the area north of Riddell Road. We’ll see if that changes, following conversations between the city and the county over South Kitsap landowner David Overton’s desire to end the agreement.

This year, I plan to write a series of articles focusing on some of those holes. Many of them are UGAs — short for Urban Growth Areas, destined to come into the city under the state’s Growth Management Act. What’s kept them from coming in?

And for that matter, how different are services between those offered in Bremerton to those in the unincorporated county?

I offer one example regarding emergency services. There are already mutual aid agreements that ensure fire trucks and police cars are on their way, regardless of jurisdiction (South Kitsap Fire & Rescue, interestingly, is still the official fire department for Rocky Point). But when it comes to policing, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is spread thin around the county, whereas Bremerton’s force is concentrated. The result more frequent patrols on city streets, and the ability of Bremerton police to respond much more quickly to emergencies.


Taxes and regulations are also different. Bremerton has a B&O tax that some cite as a deterrent for coming into the city. Of the regulatory climate, here’s one interesting nuance. There’s a storefront for a medical marijuana collective garden tucked into a sliver of county land near the Perry Avenue Mall. The city banned such gardens in 2013. It’s surrounded on three sides by Bremerton.

I think there’s a general assumption that coming into a city means more taxes, more regulation, more services. That doesn’t always turn out to be the case. I talked to a Rocky Point resident who recently told me why he didn’t want to be in the city. He recalled a relative supporting Marine Drive’s annexation into the city.

“Marine Drive got in because they wanted sewer and sidewalks,” he recalled. But they got nothin.'”

I hope to learn a lot this year on this issue, and welcome your knowledge and opinions.

Former Seattle arcade coming to Bremerton


Mike Cichy has been seeking a new locale for his arcade business since reluctantly closing the Seattle Waterfront Arcade last September.

He’s found one on Bremerton’s Fourth Street.

The fourth generation arcade owner, who lives in Illahee, signed a lease last week and has already begun remodeling a space on the 600 block. His plan includes roughly 40 games covering 2,000 square feet, along with a space for birthday parties.

“There will be something for everybody,” says Cichy, 36. “From toddlers to grandparents.”

Cichy, a fourth-generation arcade owner, would prefer to still have the arcade on the Seattle waterfront. Last year, he was given a 30-day notice to vacate from Pier 57 by its owners. Cichy said that redevelopment on the waterfront made finding a different space near impossible. He didn’t want to pay too high a price for space but also didn’t want to settle for a spot devoid of foot traffic.


So he looked closer to home.

“We were up in the air as far as what to do,” he said.

It wasn’t Cichy’s first time looking, and even finding, arcade spaces in Bremerton. He’s leased games inside the now-defunct Kart Trax on Wheaton Way and at the Bremerton Ice Center. He originally moved here with his wife, Joanna, who is a Bremerton native. The couple married in 2000.

His family has opened gaming centers all over the Puget Sound area, most recently the Seattle Waterfront Arcade. Cichy’s father, Gary, became manager at what was then called “Quarters” on the waterfront in 1994. The family bought Quarters and renamed it the Seattle Waterfront Arcade in 2002.

After looking at numerous locations in downtown Bremerton, he settled on one formally held by The Rockit Roost, an eclectic rockabilly and beer store that went out of business there in 2014. The building is owned by Timothy Stimac, who also owns the salon across the street from it.

He liked best the supportive atmosphere among business owners on Fourth Street, anchored by the 10-screen movieplex SEEfilm, for a location.

“I like the neighborhood feeling,” he said. “There’s a real sense of community down there.”

Ideally, he’d like to operate the Bremerton location and find another on, or near, the Seattle waterfront. But he feels he’s found a permanent home for his business.

“I’m looking longterm,” he said. “I’d like to be here 20 years — or more.”

No date has yet been set for the arcade’s opening but Cichy would like to be in business before June if possible.


What will it take for a Fourth Street turnaround?

The Roxy: in the middle of it.
The Roxy: in the middle of it.

The new idea for a “residential oasis” on Fourth Street is intriguing. It rests on a simple notion: If several commercial buildings have fallen stagnant on the street block, between Pacific and Washington avenues, then why not try a residential approach?

Bremerton Architect Steve Rice’s idea for residential lofts, which compliment the 22-year-old flowering pear trees on the one-way boulevard, already has some traction in that the City Council had been seeking an idea for economic development downtown to which to reallocate federal dollars.

Fourth Street’s alter ego, between Park and Pacific, is bustling with street life, making the older section contrast all the more.

So what will it take to complete the turnaround? Here’s the four main ideas I’ve heard floated. Not that they are not mutually exclusive, that is, they could occur in some combination.

Residential Oasis: The newest candidate is still early in its concept. But the basic idea would be to help property owners convert spaces — likely lofts — to quirky residential units. Federal dollars could be spent to provide loans for upgrades on buildings that require big code improvements — seismic upgrades, fire sprinklers and the like.

Cost: Possibly little to the city (federal dollars from HUD could help) though property owners would have to step up. 

The payoff: More people living downtown, which means more vibrancy, more money spent, taxes paid and more lights on in the darkened corridor. 

Take out the trees: This was the original idea, put forth by the property owners and Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin. Property managers on the street have maintained that the trees’ canopy and leaves leave it dark and give it a spooky feel that few retailers are willing to brave. Adding lighting could help brighten the street, too.

Cost: Taking down the trees would be paid for by the city or the property owners (or some combination).

The payoff: We would find out if owners and managers there are right — that the street would become far more marketable to commercial businesses looking to relocate. But fans of the trees have countered that the buildings themselves, whose facades have aged, might still not be that attractive. Further, the city also must at some point mitigate the risk of having the sidewalk buckle from the trees and someone getting injured. 

Make it a two-way street: The meandering bend to Fourth, installed as part of the 1993 improvement project, even has the added negative effect of making sure motorists are watching the street rather than getting a chance to look around the storefronts. Plus, in only going one way, you’re losing a lot of chances for drivers to see it, a turnoff for potential retailers.

Cost: Doing that kind of concrete work won’t come cheap.  

 The payoff: More motorists and parking that might pique retailers’ interest, leading to more tenants, profits, tax money, ect.  

Pedestrian plaza: The most obscure idea for the street is just to shut it down completely to traffic, leaving a short stretch for people to get to the hotel near Washington Avenue. A pedestrian plaza could be used for outdoor concerts and public events and might just achieve “that resort feeling” former Mayor Louis Mentor was going for in 1993.

Cost: Reconfiguring the city block will also not come cheap. 

The payoff: Festivals and other big events might come to downtown Bremerton. But the buildings on the street would still face the same problem: that motorists won’t see what it has to offer. In fact, they wouldn’t see it at all. 

Which option is your favorite? Or do you have another idea?

A new but familiar pizza option in Bremerton

Soon to be filled with pizzas.
Soon to be filled with pizzas.

The east side, as it turns out, is getting a Westside Pizza.

It’s not the first time the franchise has come to East Bremerton, having been in Wheaton Mall a few years ago. There are also locations in Poulsbo and on Bainbridge Island. But this time, it’s a new franchise owner who has remodeled the building at 1217 Sylvan Way, in what was last known as Rachel’s on the Eastside.

Joe Kirsch, a Sequim electrician who owns his own company, decided to diversify a bit and go into the pizza business. He shopped around for locations in Kitsap but felt the area is his best chance to be successful.

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“I thought about Silverdale but found the opportunity better in Bremerton,” he said.

Kirsch said the Great Recession was hard on any field related to construction but that pizza places actually fared pretty well. He’s proud to promote and sell the Westside brand.

“People love their pizza,” he said.

The franchise will offer delivery, dine-in and take-out. Opening is scheduled for Feb. 21.

The location joins Boston’s Deli and Pizza, Tony’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Spiro’s, Brother Don’s, Kitsap Pizza, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa Murphy’s and Little Caesars in Bremerton City Limits. There’s also plenty of places outside the city. The pizza economy, it would seem, is faring well. After all, who doesn’t like pizza?

A new incarnation at one of Bremerton’s oldest taverns


Well, that didn’t last long. The tavern building at 312 Naval Avenue, most recently known as the Pour House, has been in existence since 1927, according to county records. But when the bar’s owners closed the long-running drinking hole last August, it faced an uncertain future.

Todd and Lisa Arnold were ready to step in, though. The owners of Papa’s Eats, Treats and Spirits in the Perry Avenue Mall had been eyeing the place for some time. Last Friday, following permit approvals from the city and the state’s liquor control board, the bar once known as the Blue Jacket and Red Rooster was open again.


This time it will be known as “Mama’s Mess Deck,” to complement their eastside establishment. The sign’s on order, Lisa Arnold said.

The Arnolds have owned Papa’s for four years. Todd works at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Lisa, who once worked at Washington Mutual before the big crash, is now bar-tending and running the locations. They have put in a fair share of upgrades, to include new security cameras, better lighting and lots of cleanup.

They know that they’ll probably get a number of patrons as they spill out of the shipyard. But Lisa Arnold would like to give the place a comfortable feel where locals congregate. They plan to hold pool tournaments and have a loyalty program to boot.

“I would like to get it back to being more of a neighborhood style bar,” Lisa Arnold said.

The sign’s back on, but soon it will change.



An ‘evolution’ in East Bremerton


Might something stir the economic embers of East Bremerton’s Wheaton Way corridor? 

Fitness Evolution aims to do just that. And, it appears that at $9.99 a month for a membership, the desolate parking lots of big box stores near Riddell Road are finally filling up with some cars again.

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“We’ve been very successful so far,” said Ryan Anderson, general manager of the Bremerton location, amid the whirs of workout equipment.

Currently, the fast-growing company, with locations all over Puget Sound, is occupying an old storefront, akin to lifting weights and doing cardio within a grocery store. But in the months ahead, they’ll move next door to a 23,000+ square foot permanent home, specially built for the fitness center.

They’ll include all the fixings you’d imagine, plus some special amenities unique to Evolution. A “cardio cinema” will allow those working out to watch a movie together, looped all day. There’ll be childcare too.

Anderson said there’s no certain opening date for the new space yet. But “as soon as possible,” is what they’re going for, he mentioned.

Aside from providing an affordable workout experience, he’s hopeful the business can springboard further development in what has been a tough corridor to develop.

“We love neighbors,” Anderson said. “And we’re hoping to be a catalyst for more businesses here in Bremerton.”

IN PHOTOS: A new public beach in East Bremerton?


Plans are underway to build a 16-unit condo complex on Campbell Way, near Harrison Medical Center. The developers, who want to build it this year, told me they’re excited at the chance to construct along the bluffs of the Port Washington Narrows.

Even if you don’t buy a unit at the to-be-named complex, Bremertonians may still have reason to celebrate: the developers are being asked by the city to put in a trail to the waterfront for public access.

To my knowledge, the nearest beach access to that area is Lent Landing and Lions Field.

Here’s some photos of what will be torn down and what it would be replaced with, under plans by iCap Pacific Homes.

This home, at 1231 Campbell Way, would be razed for the new development.
This home, at 1231 Campbell Way, would be razed for the new development.
Here's the same home from its backside, atop the bluff overlooking the Port Washington Narrows.
Here’s the same home from its backside, atop the bluff overlooking the Port Washington Narrows.
Here's what the developers hope to build. Design by Fisher Architects.
Here’s what the developers hope to build. Design by Fisher Architects.
A side view.
A side view.
And finally, a bird's eye view.
And finally, a bird’s eye view.

Dispatches from downtown


Here’s some slices of life from downtown Bremerton this week. 

You’ll soon notice a new sign at Uptown Barbershop (above) where the business has shed its original “Acme” name. Kellie Quanrud, who’s owned it for the past year, said she had already agreed to change the original name due to the Acme barbershop they were once affiliated with on the Seattle side. Only now, that same Seattle barbershop wasn’t happy about the Bremerton barbershop keeping any part of “acme” in its name. So look for a sign change soon.

“At this point I think its best we go completely our own direction anyhow,” Quanrud told her Facebook fans. ” …  We love and appreciate all of our customers and our regulars that pop in to just hang out with us! That is what a barbershop should be! Thanx for supporting your local shop and being patient with us through all these changes!”

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Just down the street, more serious changes maybe in store at The RockIt Roost. Owner Chuck Mitchell is looking into transforming it into a pub and arcade. He told me he’s not sure if it will happen, but he’s trying to make it work. I’ll keep you posted.


Also nearby, you might have noticed Evergreen Trophies and Kitchen got a paint job. Joe Hudson told me they’ll soon have a new sign out front to complete the facade.


Work continues on an expansion of El Balcon, the popular El Salvadorian eatery on Pacific Avenue. I’m told they’ve got some hurdles to go but could be open in another slice of the Dietz Building by the end of the year.


Work on a $3.5 million overhaul of the Salvation Army continues downtown, near Park Avenue on Sixth Street. Tad Sooter has further details here.

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You’ve probably seen Monday’s story about the new apartments going up at Park Avenue and Burwell Street. The $9 million project will get started this week.

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All this and I didn’t even mention the yellow submarine.

Have a dispatch from somewhere in Bremerton? Email Josh Farley at to have yours included next time.  

Dereliction demolished

Work demolishing nine homes near the Manette Bridge has restored the view of the bridge from Highland Avenue — at least before the Spyglass Hill apartments are built.

As planned, the homes long owned by John Hoffman were bulldozed this week. Once turn-of-the-century family homes Hoffman says his grandfather, City Attorney Thomas Stevenson, used as a kind of informal city hall, the structures have been in disrepair for many years.

After a fire in one of them, city officials took Hoffman to court over code violations. Hoffman vowed to fight the city and had hoped to restore the homes to their “former grandeur.” But  he ultimately sold the properties at 649 and 653 Washington Avenue to the developers of the Spyglass Hill apartment project for $20,000.

In late-September, work began demolishing nine homes, including the two Hoffman owned. A landscape of nine aging homes will, in a year’s time, be replaced with a $15 million apartment high-rise and complex.

The developers plan to honor Hoffman’s family with a memorial at the site but details are still in the works, I’m told.

Here’s a little photographic journey of the demolitions.

The view inside Hoffman's home, overlooking the Manette Bridge. The home was full of heirlooms and property, much of which was moved to a storage unit.
The view inside Hoffman’s home, overlooking the Manette Bridge. The home was full of heirlooms and property, much of which was moved to a storage unit.
Homes to the south of the ones formerly owned by Hoffman came down first.
Homes to the south of the ones formerly owned by Hoffman were demolished beforehand.
Demolition of the home at 653 Washington started first this week. Some pianos and other belongings were removed as well. 
All that was left of the upstairs Wednesday at 649 Washington.
And by Thursday, they were gone. But crews still have to tear out the basements, within the retaining wall, and fill them in to secure the bank. I’ll post more photos as that work happens.