Category Archives: Downtown

The paving is done … so why is Washington Avenue still closed?

Crews paint the retaining wall on Washington Avenue, as part of the street's $3.5 million makeover. Photo by Larry Steagall.
Crews paint the retaining wall on Washington Avenue, as part of the street’s $3.5 million makeover. Photo by Larry Steagall.

UPDATE, Dec. 11: City officials announced Friday that Washington Avenue will reopen to traffic on mid-day, Monday, Dec. 14. Some work continues that could result in intermittent closures but the roadway, including the intersections at Fifth and Sixth streets will finally be opened.

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At long last, paving’s been completed on Washington Avenue and drivers will see some relief on their afternoon commutes home. 

Right?

Not quite.

The city has chosen to keep the southbound lane of Washington closed until mid-December, in order to get a few more tasks completed and so it does not further confuse drivers, according to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin.

“Since folks are used to the one-lane northbound configuration and the intersection closure, we think it is best overall to get the work done right with fewer disruptions,” Martin told me.

There’s still a lot of electrical work to do, to include putting in those decorative downtown street lights. Crews from RV Associates also must wait for the pavement to “cure” before they can apply markings to the street. Remember, there will be Bremerton’s first “bike boxes” as a part of this project.

“Since we only have one lane to work with each way now, it really makes it much more difficult to get the big trucks in, and have the room they need to work safely,” Martin said.

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The $3.5 million project has narrowed the roadway from four lanes to two, which made room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes. The project is also completing a new sewer line that will allow the city to abandon an environmentally sensitive sewer line on the beach below.

Once most of the road work’s done, the crews will be able to finish off the work at Evergreen-Rotary Park. Now that the aforementioned sewer beach line will be defunct, there’s no need for a pump station, roadway and power lines through the middle of the park. Crews will take those things out and fully connect the original park with the new 9/11 Memorial via grass and pathways.

Here’s the city’s timeline — not quite the October completion they’d expected.

  • Paving complete – Thursday, October 15th
  • Street lights installed and operational – October 30th
  • Landscaping on Washington – October 30th
  • Park construction – October 30th to December 18th
  • Underground (electrical) conversion complete and street fully reopened – December 18th

Why yes, another downtown Bremerton apartment project

Artist's rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.
Artist’s rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.

But wait, there’s more. Even after nearly 200 apartment units open in downtown Bremerton in the next year, there are more projects planned around the corner.

The next one is located on the corner of Warren Avenue and Burwell Street. Remember that fire in late September (see photo) that damaged the boarded-up town homes there? It may not be long before bulldozers take them all out entirely and replace them with a 25-apartment complex.

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The fire in September.

The 1010 apartments, planned by the same developers as the ones wrapping up 71-unit 606 project down the street, have recently won approval from the city’s design review board. PJ Santos with Lorax Partners said there’s no timetable yet for construction.

The project spans four parcels between 1002 and 1018 Burwell Street, each currently owned by Diamond Parking. Lorax plans to buy the properties when construction looms.

In terms of design, the project cannot be more than 40 feet high. The Navy is asking for that limit along the city’s border with Naval Base Kitsap and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a matter of security.

So why is downtown Bremerton getting so much attention from developers? Those I’ve talked to give three main reasons: the Seattle economy is bursting at the seams, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is home to 13,000+ jobs (and federal contracts) and apartment vacancies in Kitsap County are nearly nonexistent.

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A rendering of the floor plan at the 1010.

Here’s a status update about the projects going around downtown. These three are a go:

The 606: Pre-leasing has begun on the $9 million project, which is scheduled to open Dec. 1, according to a Facebook post. (Thanks to Kitsap Sun Business Reporter Tad Sooter for the update.)

Spyglass Hill: Work is progressing on the $15 million, 80-unit project on Highland Avenue. While it was supposed to open in January originally, later in 2016 is a forgone conclusion due to some earlier delays.

The Monterey: The 48-unit project by longtime Kitsap County resident and developer Dale Sperling (who hasn’t disclosed the price tag) at the former Nite Shift Tavern and Evergreen Upholstery is making its way through the design review board; Sperling expects construction in early spring.

Two other developments are still clouded in uncertainty:

The Towers: The massive condo development on Washington Avenue at Sixth Street, pushed through by developer Mark Goldberg but now owned by Absher Construction, has been quiet for some time. I’ve heard a plan to rejig the development to include apartments, a restaurant and even a hotel, but nothing has come to fruition. The developers did pay more than $200,000 to bury power lines on the street as part of the Washington Avenue project.

Evergreen Pointe: The 104-unit complex would straddle Evergreen-Rotary Park on Sheldon Boulevard. This was also once a project owned by Mark Goldberg, but no more. I’ve talked to Kingston developer Trish Williams, who owns it now, and she is optimistic about it moving forward. But nothing is set in stone as yet.

The 606.
The 606.

 

Spyglass Hill.
Spyglass Hill.
The Monterey.
The Monterey.
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The Towers.
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Evergreen Pointe.

IN PHOTOS: Bremerton then and now

Going to Evergreen Upholstery on Burwell Street is like a trip back in time. Not only has the store seen Bremerton through the decades — it’s been in the same spot since 1955 — but owners James and Joanne Welch have a passion for the city and its history.

The Welches have long collected postcards and other photos of the city. While interviewing them for a story about their business and the pending plan to build 48 apartments there, they let me take a few pictures myself of their amazing collection. I am sharing them with you now, alongside a more current photo of the place that was captured.

The Manette Bridge: THEN

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The Manette Bridge: NOW

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The first Manette Bridge opened in 1930; here it is under construction and, once built, is its toll booth — complete with brick fireplace. The bridge was tolled twice; once at its inception and later when the Warren Avenue Bridge opened.

The second Manette Bridge, also pictured, opened in 2011.

Evergreen-Rotary Park: THEN

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Evergreen-Rotary Park: NOW

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Some of you have lived here long enough to remember the pool at Evergreen-Rotary Park. But what about the pavilion? The park originated at the northernmost section that exists now, so I am guessing that’s where this pavilion was.

Also, something else I find interesting is how much the park has grown over time. And by grown, I mean has protruded out and over the Port Washington Narrows. If you notice, what we now call Smith’s Cove used to be Smith’s Bay, according to this circa-1960 map.  The waterline appears to come all the way up to Sheldon Boulevard. My guess is that much fill went into the water but if anyone has a more thorough explanation, I’d love to hear it.

Building 50: THEN

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Building 50: NOW

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The Navy built Building 50 within the first five years of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s existence, in 1896. In the above photo, it’s the one on the right. It was first a headquarters for shipyard commandants. The building moved around until finally settling down in 2007 to house the Puget Sound Navy Museum, next to the shipyard and ferry.

The Elks Lodge: THEN 

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The Elks Lodge: NOW

Bremerton’s brick-lined Elks Lodge has long since been converted to housing for the Max Hale Center. But I had no idea of the grand staircase that once greeted visitors. Those stairs would be removed when the Pay Less store moved in, occupying a white cube of a building that still exists today.

You might also note that there was a Methodist church where the Chase Bank building is now.

The Bremerton waterfront: THEN 

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The Bremerton waterfront: NOW 

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So much has changed. You’ll note the Kalakala ferry in the first photo (bottom right); and in the second photo, taken on Second Street, you’ll see Skippers Tavern. You can read more about it here, in a Sun story by Travis Baker.

And those men walking in the street? They’re the Bremer brothers, John and Ed, who reportedly always walked that closely together with their business manager around town.

The third shot shows the old Bremerton ferry terminal while the fourth, complete with a Blackberry Festival mural, shows the corner where the Hampton Inn now sits.

The cash register at Evergreen Upholstery: THEN AND NOW

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Because some things never change. Be sure to read the note on the front of the register.

This TV show needed a Navy ship to film on. They got one in Bremerton

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While on a tour of businesses in eastern Washington in early August, Dino Davis spotted an opportunity. The Bremerton City Councilman was listening to an executive producer of the SyFy show “Z Nation,” who mentioned that the show was in need of a Navy ship for filming.

“I raised my hand and I said I know a guy,” Davis said.

Not even two months later and the show is here in Bremerton. On Wednesday, members of the production company The Asylum, which makes the show, will set up on the USS Turner Joy Museum; filming will commence Thursday, according to John Hanson, president of the Bremerton Historic Ships Association.

A sign went up at the Bremerton Marina to alert boaters and onlookers that “strange noises including gun fire, screaming and shouting,” will be part of production.

“In addition, the characters will be in full make-up and dressed as Zombies,” it reads, adding that a Zodiac boat will be in the water Friday as part of filming.

Davis said he’s pleased that the film crew has chosen Bremerton as its backdrop. He was on a tour of Eastern Washington businesses put on by the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, one that included stops in Spokane, where The Asylum is based and is taking advantage of the state’s film incentive.

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Another arcade is coming to downtown Bremerton

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Developments in Bremerton seem to come in twos these days. Both Ace and Henery Hardware opened on opposite sides of town within a month of each other in 2014; two fledgling breweries — Wobbly Hops and LoveCraft — both decided to wade into the downtown market at nearly the same time. And, where there was one arcade that opened downtown in the spring, there will now be two.

Another Castle Arcade Edition is coming to 305 Pacific Avenue, former home of Alchemy Tattoo & Gallery.

The Edmonds-based adult “barcade,” which started as a video store in 2006, expanded to serve drinks to its gaming customers. They’ll soon open similar barcades in Bellingham and Bremerton, according to Jason Alloway Greye, the company’s district manager.  The expansion speaks to the state of the industry, he said.

“Demand is growing exponentially,” he said.

Greye, who happens to be from Bremerton, pitched the idea to the company to give downtown Bremerton a try. He sees a city that needs more for younger people — those over 21 — to do. Plus, he figured there’s plenty of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers nearby that would want to give the place a try as well.

Like Quarters Arcade around the corner, there will be a mix of old and new games. You’ll be able to play about a dozen pinball machines and around 30 arcade games.

“We focus on classic and retro but not exclusively,” Greye said.

Bremerton’s will be the only location with a full bar, he added.

They plan to open in November.

VIDEO: Opening night footage from The Roxy Theater

“Certainly marvelous,” “very fine,” and “awful nice,” are how some of the first moviegoers at Bremerton’s Roxy Theater described it to a film crew on opening night. Some of you may recall this five minute video (above) from my July tour of the Roxy. Now, at long last, it’s available for posterity on YouTube.

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It was a precarious journey. At some point, the original film — whose creators are unknown — was transferred to VHS and then to DVD. A huge thanks is due to the Kitsap County Historical Society and Museum, who kept it for many years. Crystal Yingling, who is spearheading an effort to save the Roxy and restore it to its former glory, got a copy. And at last, we’re able to present it to you now.

BLOGGER’S UPDATE, 5.19.16: The Roxy was purchased by Sound West Group in late 2015 and they have begun a full restoration.

The Roxy’s future is still far from certain but I do have a few developments to tell you. First, Yingling is teaming up with the nonprofit Downtown Bremerton Association in an effort to proceed with further fundraising. The 660-seat theater is owned by an Oregon investment firm.

It will likely take north of $1 million to fully restore the theater, which has been on sale for $399,000.

There’s also some ideas floating around about that particular tree-lined stretch of Fourth Street. Rice Fergus Miller Architects have been hosted a design charrette this week aimed at redeveloping the street into a retail-residential corridor, with as many as 70 residences atop businesses.

In the meantime, please enjoy the film, from the May 31, 1941 opening of the theater. Playing first was “The Devil and Miss Jones,” featuring Jean Arthur. And, as you may have already seen, you can wax nostalgic right next door to the shuttered Fourth Street Theater at the new Wobbly Hops Brewery, which opened earlier this month.

If you have any idea who might have produced this video, we’d like to give them credit. Please drop me a line at jfarley@kitsapsun.com.

Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

The odd asphalt sidewalks on Washington Avenue

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I was startled on my commute this morning to find asphalt — yes asphalt — where concrete sidewalks should be on the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project. 

As you can see from the photo above, it basically looks like there’s another street where sidewalks should be. So what gives?

City officials said in an email earlier this week that yes, asphalt will have to do on the eastern Washington Avenue sidewalk, between Sixth and Fifth streets. The reason is that there’s a proposed development, once called the “Towers Project,” that the city believes will simply rip the street open again when construction on it begins.

The reason for their confidence: the development, begun by Absher Construction, paid upwards of $200,000 for the city to bury power lines on Washington between Sixth and Fifth streets. That suggests the project is not just one for the community development department shelves but that they’re serious about getting going.

Still, it looks odd, don’t you think?

Other project updates: On Monday, work will shift to the western side of Washington Avenue. That means that northbound traffic on Washington will take up the new lane on the east side, with the western side closed down. There won’t be any southbound traffic allowed on Washington, and the intersections at Fifth and Sixth streets will be closed. Contractor RV Associates estimates it will take seven to eight weeks to complete the western work.

The Towers project rendering.
The Towers project rendering.

When completed in mid-October — that’s the hope anyway — the project will have taken the road from four lanes to two, added wider sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and decorative lighting.

The project also includes the linking of the 9/11 Memorial park with the wider Evergreen-Rotary Park. In mid-September, crews will demolish the old end of Highland Avenue and a sewer pump house there. They’ll plant grass, put in new pathways and create a new viewing platform of the Port Washington Narrows. Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing the new park, the design of which you can see below.


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Grocery gourmet: freezer section secrets at CJ’s

Richard Kost and Cynthia Jeffries in the freezer section.
Richard Kost and Cynthia Jeffries in the freezer section.

You hear a lot these days about the desire to have a grocery store in downtown Bremerton. Whenever that should occur, the new proprietors will be hard pressed to compete with the freezer section of CJ’s Evergreen General Store on Park Avenue.

Prime rib. Chicken Piccata. Corned beef and cabbage. All there, all freshly made and most with local ingredients. And just about everything costs around $10.

Last time I was in there, I picked up a cup of chili. Might have been some of the best I’ve ever had.  But don’t take my word for it — the chili was among the best at this year’s Empty Bowl fundraiser for Bremerton Foodline.

“You might not expect that at the corner grocery store,” said Cynthia Jeffries, owner of the store since it opened in 2007.

Jeffries expanded the general store in 2009 to include a catering business. She brought on the talents of Richard Kost, a chef with more than two decades’ experience who has headed the kitchens of numerous Seattle restaurants.

With catering, the duo was able to diversify the business but also experiment with some other ideas, including the gourmet freezer section. They’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it has done, helping to even build a personal chef service.

“For me, it’s a chance to do some higher end foods, right here, with locally sourced products,” Kost said.

Jeffries said a side benefit has been seeing customers of all different income levels come to enjoy the section. For families, it can even compete with fast food in terms of value, but the quality of ingredients is much better. Pints of soup are $5 and other items can even be purchased for less.

“You can’t buy a happy meal for $4,” she points out.

CJ’s is located at 1417 Park Avenue

Meet the man in charge of the game-changing $665 million telescope

Bob Abel (left) and Steve Kahn at the Kitsap Conference Center Thursday.
Bob Abel (left) and Steve Kahn at the Kitsap Conference Center Thursday.

Steve Kahn often gets one question about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to start mapping the Heavens in 2022.

“Haven’t we already done that?” people say.

The truth is that such stellar cartography has never been done on this scale before. It’s truly a game-changer, Kahn says.

“The answer to that question is that the sky’s a really big place,” he quips.

And it needs a really big telescope to map it. For example: The mirror on the Hubble Space Telescope is 2.1 meters across. By contrast, the LSST’s will be 8.4 meters.

The teams working on the largest federal project in astronomy today — $665 million to construct a mammoth telescope, build the biggest ever camera for it and capture unprecedented amounts of data — have been right here in Bremerton all week, advancing their cause.

Kahn, who is the director of LSST and a Stanford University professor, is no stranger to big projects, having worked on massive x-ray telescopes and particle accelerators at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC).

But LSST is different in at least one regard: the scientists building all of its parts are scattered throughout the country.

“Most big projects are built by one team and are in one place,” he said.

And despite a world with so much connectivity via the Internet and video conferencing, there’s just no substitute for face to face interaction. Kahn wants to ensure that the telescope builders, camera constructors, data keepers and other scientists don’t bifurcate into fiefdoms but that they’re all working toward the same unified goal.

“We want LSST to not only be a great telescope and great for science, but also to be a great team,” he said.

That’s where Bremerton comes in, the city Olympic College Professor Bob Abel — also a part of LSST — was able to convince his colleagues to come to for an “all hands on deck” weeklong meeting.

This week has been productive in solving a particularly thorny issue facing LSST: how best to map the cosmos. Kahn refers to the “traveling salesman” problem: what’s the route to take to make the most sales and drive the least amount of miles possible?

For LSST, that means finding the most interesting things to study through LSST’s lens in the 10 years they have to do so. Even mathematicians have joined the project to help them attain those efficiencies, using what’s known as “operations research.”

Kahn says the LSST will focus on four main areas: near Earth objects, to see what asteroids might imperil Earth; the science of the Milky Way, to include a first ever 3-D map of it; examining a changing sky, which includes supernovae and the like; and potentially solve some fundamental mysteries, such as learning more about dark energy.

But for the week in Bremerton, Kahn also wanted to build camaraderie. Abel took the charge of bringing the scientists in to the community: playing soccer each morning at Kiwanis Park and hosting talks all week long at SEEFilm Cinemas and around town.

Kahn has been amazed at the some 1,000 people who’ve come out to hear from some of astronomy’s brightest minds. They’re not just asking “surface questions” and show an understanding and curiosity that’s impressed the director. He wonders if even his hometown of Palo Alto would draw that kind of response.

“The thing that’s blown us away is the response from the community,” he said. “In a town this size, that’s phenomenal.”

Invasion of the astronomers

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If you have a love of the cosmos, it’s a good time to be alive in Bremerton. Next week, some of astronomy’s brightest minds will be here for a conference. The good news for us laypeople is they’re going to share some of their vast knowledge with us, every night of the week.

Starting Sunday at SEEFilm Cinemas, you can catch astronomers doing TED-style talks (see posted flyer). The most entertaining portion of the events looks to be Tuesday night’s Astronomy Slam, held around downtown (see flyer below).

And just what is bringing them to Bremerton? A telescope. But not just any old telescope — one that will gobble up enough data every night to fill the Library of Congress. It’s called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and perched in the Andes Mountains of Chile, it will scan the sky with a 3,200 megapixel camera for a decade starting in 2022.

I’m doing a larger story about the telescope, which will be in the Kitsap Sun in the coming days. Hope to see you around the conference next week.

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