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What To Do With Poulsbo City Hall…

March 16th, 2009 by Derek Sheppard

Wednesday night the Poulsbo City Council will vote on whether to issue the last phase of bonds to help pay for the new city hall. Assuming the vote is in the affirmative and the project continues forward, it might be high time to start thinking about another aspect of this project that has largely been off the radar.

What to do with Poulsbo City Hall? No, I don’t mean the new one. The old one. Also on Wednesday, the council will address that issue. Part of the financing package for the new building includes selling the land where the current city hall resides.

I’ve floated this idea to a few folks and haven’t gotten any crazy looks, so I’ll take that as a sign I’m on the right track. Bear with me:

Almost all of the discussion thus far has been about cost and location of the new building. But I think the back end of this project will have a much greater effect on the average Poulsbo resident or downtown visitor. This isn’t me discounting the importance of the fact that it’s the most expensive municipal building project in the city’s history, but I think people will experience the change more profoundly when something new goes in the current city hall pad.

It’s a large piece of property, right smack dab in the middle of downtown. Combine that with an entire block for sale just a stone’s throw away (Not city owned), and you’ve got major potential to dramatically change the way downtown Poulsbo looks, feels and functions. Condos? New retail? Tall buildings? Hotels? Conference centers? Who knows?

As for the city’s land, it brings up the question of how much it can or wants to direct the sale. Because the city has prime land in the heart of downtown, I can see how some might want to guide the sale toward an element the city feels will benefit downtown. But constricting the uses to what you might desire could, in theory, lead to a lower sale price. What happens if the city sells the land without any caveats, and someone buys and develops something that doesn’t necessarily conform to what politicians and/or locals want to see downtown?

Interesting questions, I think.

What would you like to see happen with the current city hall property on Jensen? Discuss.

- Derek Sheppard

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9 Responses to “What To Do With Poulsbo City Hall…”

  1. luisbarrantes Says:

    Kinda like the AIG bailout…. In too deep to stop now????

    One could argue that construction of this project (with local companies) would do more to “stimulate” the regional Poulsbo economy than any road job that is usually awarded to companies out of the region.

  2. Colleen Smidt Says:

    Old City Hall? Hmmmm….How about transforming it into a new and much needed “Stop Sign” manufacturing facility to meet a recent sharp increase in demand. A banner with the new city motto can hang out front “Poulsbo….a Stop Sign on EVERY corner!”

  3. Brynn Grimley Says:

    I’ve heard the council discuss the possibility of a parking garage going in there…any thoughts on that?

    – Brynn Grimley
    reporter

  4. derek sheppard Says:

    Luis,
    I can understand the view that the construction would be a boost, providing jobs, but in this case I’m more interested in the long-term effects. Regarding local contractors, it’s my understanding that if a non-local contractor provides the lowest bid, government agencies are legally obligated to accept it.

    Brynn,
    That idea is still hanging out there. Any parking structure would likely be on the King Olav parking lot that’s there now. My understanding is that the city plans to sell the land where the building is located, but keep the parking lot. Obviously the big question on a parking garage is who’d pay for it, and how. Those things don’t come cheap.

  5. luisbarrantes Says:

    Yea, I guess bonding (either for the new city hall or the old city hall site)won’t have long term consequences for Poulsbo…. :))

    As to the local vs. non local you may be right. I really don’t know. WSF may know better than both of us. But historically, looking at awarded projects of past, I’d bet brick and mortar projects have been predominatly awarded to local contractors in much higher precentage than asphalt and striping.

    Again, maybe Iam wrong…

  6. derek sheppard Says:

    Luis,
    Yes, you’re right that 25 or 30 years of bond debt is a long-term consequence. I didn’t mean to imply it wasn’t. I was more comparing the effect that new development will have versus the short-term construction boom. I just wanted to look at the city hall development from a different angle. The way people experience, and will experience, downtown.

    Regarding the contractors, I also have a gut feeling your observation is generally true. I was just trying to explain the issue in case someone non-local wins the bid. I think I remember reading a letter about something similar to this recently in Bremerton.

  7. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    “brick and mortar projects have been predominatly awarded to local contractors in much higher precentage ..”

    Luis,
    If true, why would ‘brick and mortar projects’ more likely go to local contractors? Isn’t bidding and low bid viable any more?
    Sharon O’Hara

  8. Glenn Says:

    What to do with the old city hall. With some minor remodeling the old city hall could be made into retail shops. It would open up that whole section of town. The retail area could more than double. Making Poulsbo a more interesting and vibrant city for tourists and locals alike. It would draw more people and bring in more revenue. Retail would be a thousand times more beneficial than a parking garage. a parking garage there, would stop growth, as the current city hall has stopped growth.
    Between down town and Bank of America could be a totally revitalized part of town, Some new shopping, restaurants, and some green areas, could make this section of town, exciting, interesting and vibrant. More downtown visitors would would mean more proffitable and better shops. Parking could be placed farther away, with a free or very cheap transit ride to shopping, or a nice walk lined with shrubs and planting, maybe a sculpture along the way. Poulsbo can be a beautiful wonderful place. Poulsbo has so much potential. A parking garage is neither Beatiful or have potential, it is static.

  9. jah Says:

    The New City Hall…we live across the street, and now that the roof is on, we have a new problem…. “THE GLARE” The Sun reflects a very bright glare, in to our house. When we stand on our deck, the glare is so intense you have to look away. So, far we have notice it starting around 2:00 till 6:00. We don’t think, this was considered in there plan?

    What to do now?
    Thanks, JAH

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