Mora ice cream featured in Starbucks beverage

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Starbucks courtesy image

An ambitious Kitsap ice cream company will get a shot of exposure this summer from the biggest name in coffee.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room is featuring scoops from Mora Iced Creamery in a new lineup of Affogato beverages, according to a news release.

Affogato is essentially a scoop of ice cream “drowned” in espresso.

Husband and wife team Ana Orselli and Jerry Perez founded Mora on Bainbridge Island in 2005, after immigrating from Argentina.

Perez said the chance to work with Starbucks was an unbelievable opportunity.

Mora Iced Creamery owner Jerry Perez in the new production facility that is under construction in Poulsbo on Friday, March 27, 2015. (MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)
Jerry Perez in the Mora production facility in Poulsbo. MEEGAN REID / KITSAP SUN

“When I saw Starbucks had called on the caller ID, my first feeling is that I forgot something at my neighborhood Starbucks store,” Perez said in the news release.

“But when I learned they wanted to work with us, it was very emotional. For us to come to this country as immigrants and now get a call from Starbucks, all I could think was ‘Wow.’”

Mora has shops in Kingston, Poulsbo and on Bainbridge. The company recently opened a production facility on Viking Avenue, with plans to franchise locations across the country.

Toy shop moving into old Winslow Drug

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Tristan Baurick photo

A toy store is poised to replace Winslow Drug on Bainbridge Island’s main street.

Elisabeth Dahl, owner of Calico Toy Shoppe in Winslow Green, said she signed a lease agreement on the space at 290 Winslow Way E. She plans to move her business there this fall.

“We’re definitely excited about being in the middle of main street and the heart of town,” Dahl said.

Winslow Drug closed in May after 60 years in business. Safeway picked up its pharmacy accounts and hired its staff.

The spacious storefront left vacant by the Winslow Drug will give Calico room to grow and add new products, while exposing the business to more tourist traffic, Dahl said.

The shop will remain open in Winslow Green during the move, and possibly through the end of 2016.

Port mulling $75k real estate marketing study

SAFE Boats remains an anchor tenant at the port
SAFE Boats remains an anchor industrial tenant at the port

The Port of Bremerton is considering paying a consulting firm $75,000 to study how the district can best market its sprawling industrial property to potential tenants.

According to a memo prepared by CEO Jim Rothlin, the goal of the analysis would be to identify the port’s strengths and generate a list of businesses that could benefit from locating there.

“While the Port has many amenities to offer prospective tenants at the Industrial Park, it is critical that we find a way to stand apart from many other location options available to them,” Rothlin wrote in the memo.

Rothlin is recommending a contract with real estate consulting firm Heartland LLC. of Seattle.

The bulk of the $75,000 price tag would be covered by a $49,500 grant the port recently obtained from the state Department of Commerce. The port would pick up the remaining $25,500.

The port commission will vote on the contract during its next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bremerton National Airport.

You can read Rothlin’s memo below and find the port commission agenda here.

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91-unit apartment complex approved in Poulsbo

One street side elevation
A street-level view of one Arendal apartment building

Poulsbo has given the green light to a 91-unit apartment complex planned for Viking Avenue. 

arendal.siteThe Arendal Apartments will be built on 7.6 acres just south of the intersection with Highway 305 and up the road from Fish Park. A wetland occupies the east side of the property.

Apartments will be divided among four buildings, each with between 11,000 to 12,000 square feet of floor space, according to a notice of decision issued by the city Thursday.

Plans include 174 parking spaces. About a quarter of the spaces will be under buildings. Access will be from a single entrance on Viking Avenue.

A club house, playground, barbecue area, bicycle storage and dog park are also planned.

The applicant for the project is Viking Avenue Properties, LLC., headed by Kelly Clark of Kingston.

You can read the full notice of decision below, and find a detailed staff report here (big PDF file).

NOD Arendal

Moctezuma’s restaurant opening in Kitsap Mall this fall

moctezumas45withLadyMoctezuma’s will bring its brand of fine Mexican dining to Kitsap Mall this fall.

The family-owned restaurant and tequila bar chain, which has locations in Gig Harbor, South Center and Tacoma, is moving into a 8,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Hale’s Alehouse.

13411826_1196363163730987_5738524364286351673_oMoctezuma’s Director of Operations Michael Goronkin said the company saw Silverdale as a vibrant market to expand into.

“It’s a growing community,” Goronkin said. “Restaurants out there have been really successful.”

The Kitsap Mall restaurant will be Moctezuma’s largest location to date, and will employ more than 100 workers, Goronkin said. Space in the restaurants is evenly divided between the tequila bar and dining room.

Goronkin said Moctezuma’s decor and food set it apart from other Mexican restaurants. Decorations are imported from Mexico. Food is made from scratch, using family recipes.

Amy_Johnson_-9152“We really focus on execution and make sure every dish pops,” he said “… it’s kind of an over-the-top experience. You feel like you’re in Mexico.”

Moctezuma’s will fully remodel the Kitsap Mall space before moving in. Goronkin said the process will take about five months, meaning the restaurant could open in November.

The previous tenant, Hale’s Ales, left Kitsap Mall but hasn’t departed Kitsap. The brewery recently established a distribution center in Bremerton, and plans to open a tasting room there in July.

You can check the Moctezuma’s Silverdale accounts on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Courtesy images

Employment stronger, job growth gradual in Kitsap this year

Kitsap County saw incremental job growth through May this year, while overall employment among county residents remained more robust.

Kitsap jobs

Kitsap County employers provided an estimated 88,900 jobs in May, according to preliminary numbers from the state Employment Security Department. That marked an increase of 1,300 from May 2015.

Through the first five months of the year, the number of jobs in Kitsap was up 1.8 percent compared with the same period of 2015.

The largest gain came in the public sector, where jobs increased by 3.5 percent. Private sector jobs increased by less than 1 percent.

Here’s a graphical look at Kitsap job trends:

Employment/unemployment

Overall employment among Kitsap residents has been healthier so far this year than last.

The county’s labor force (the total number of people working or seeking work) numbered 117,400 in May, up 2,568 from May of 2015. And about 2,600 more county residents were working last month than in May 2015.

Kitsap’s unemployment rate hovered at 5.7 percent.

Here’s a graphical look at employment trends:

Housing Kitsap pursuing 92-unit development near OC Poulsbo

Housing Kitsap is once again partnering with a private developer on a plan to create homes in Poulsbo.

This time the non-profit housing authority is looking to build on property it already owns within College Marketplace master plan area, just east of Olympic College (see inset area map).

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Click to enlarge

Housing Kitsap is working with development firm Central Highland Homes on the proposal, which would add 92 residential units to the 6.4-acre site.

Housing Kitsap Executive Director Stuart Grogan noted the property would provide residents easy access to the college campus, large retail centers and the highway. A YMCA could even be built on the same hillside.

“It’s sort of a perfect location,” Grogan said.

According to a preliminary plan presented to the Housing Kitsap board this week, the neighborhood would incorporate 42 single-family homes on small lots, and a three-story, 50-unit apartment building.

Half of the apartments would be rented at market rate. The other 25 would be rented to households earning 80 percent of area median income.

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A “very” preliminary site plan

Central Highland would spearhead planning and development of both the houses and apartment building.

Housing Kitsap would sell the single-family portion of the property to Central Highland, and proceeds from the land sale would help pay for the multi-family units. The housing agency would secure a tax-exempt bond to repay a construction loan.

Grogan said Central Highland will submit a site plan review application to the city in the near future.

This isn’t the first time Housing Kitsap and Central Highland have joined forces. The two groups worked together to create 40 subsidized “self-help” homes in the nearby Summerset neighborhood.

And this isn’t the only project the housing authority is pursuing in Poulsbo. Housing Kitsap and Sound West Group recently announced plans for a mixed market-rate and affordable housing development on Viking Avenue.

With scant public money available for building affordable homes, groups like Housing Kitsap are increasingly leaning on partnerships with private firms to get projects moving.

“Figuring out ways to work with the private sector will be the wave of the future for all housing,” Grogan said.

This post was updated to correct the total unit count.

Kitsap’s median home price hits $285,000

real.estateThe median price for homes sold in Kitsap County reached $285,000 last month, as sales activity ramped up and inventory remained low.

The median price for May was 7.6 percent higher than in May of 2015, according to report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. 

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CLICK HERE FOR A MAP SHOWING YEAR-OVER-YEAR PRICE CHANGE BY SUBMARKET

The year-to-date (January-May) median home price for the county was $266,914, up about 11.5 percent from the same period of last year.

Prices have increased most dramatically in West Bremerton, where homes are selling for 40 percent more so far this year than in 2015.

Despite the price jump, West Bremerton remains the county’s least expensive submarket.

Home sales also ticked up in May. Pending sales were up 9.4 percent from May 2015, while closed sales jumped 12.5 percent.

The number of homes available for sale inched up to 734, with 608 listings added. Inventory remained 23 percent lower than a year ago.

The months supply of homes — the number of months it would take to sell off all homes on the market if no new listings were added — rested at 1.85. A market is considered balanced when it has a four- to six-month supply.

“Inventory is being squeezed from all directions,” Frank Wilson of John L. Scott in Poulsbo, said in a statement released by NWMLS. “With less than two months of inventory, every new listing seems to draw multiple offers.”

Wilson doesn’t see the inventory crunch easing “for some time to come.” Even if the Fed raises interest rates, he believes shortages will persist because of the backlog of buyers.

Here’s a graphical look at Kitsap real estate trends:

And here’s a map showing real estate stats by submarket. Wave your clicker over each area to see details:

SAFE Boats unveils ‘multi-mission’ vessel

safe.boatsSAFE Boats International announced a new model in its lineup of commercially-available”interceptor” vessels.

The Port of Bremerton-based manufacturer unveiled the 35-foot “Multi-Mission Interceptor” Wednesday at the Multi-Agency Craft Conference in Baltimore, according to a news release.

“We are excited to launch the Multi-Mission Interceptor, one of the most versatile and highest performing models in our already great portfolio”, SAFE Boats CEO Dennis Morris said in the release.

The aluminum vessel boasts a maximum speed of more than 55 knots, and is capable of tight maneuvers and open-ocean crossings. A unique mounting system allows the rear deck to be reconfigured quickly.

SAFE Boats recently celebrated a milestone with the completion of its 2,000th hull and the delivery of its first coastal interceptor for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

43,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in Medicaid

apple.healthRoughly one in six Kitsap County residents are now enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, called Apple Health.

A total of 43,833 people living in the county have signed up for Apple Health, according to a Tuesday report from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Kitsap ranked 10th among Washington counties for Apple Health enrollment.

Another 5,328 residents enrolled in qualified plans offered through the state’s individual health insurance marketplace, ranking eighth among Washington counties.

QHPStatewide, 1.52 million residents have enrolled in Apple Health and 169,000 purchased qualified health plans, according to the report.

The report highlighted statistics from the insurance marketplace’s most recent open enrollment period, which ended Jan. 31. Enrollment in Apple Health continues year-round.

Kitsap County’s uninsured rate fell steeply after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. Kitsap had the smallest percentage of uninsured residents in the state in 2014.

You can read the full enrollment report here.