Category Archives: Economic Development

Where the sidewalk ends: the sequel

Last week, I wrote about public works mowing mishaps that resulted in damage to private property. And our theme of the intersection of public and private land continues.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Port Orchard City Council discussed a disconnect between its own code, which calls on private property owners to maintain and repair sidewalks, and the city’s practice of making repairs on its own dime.

At the same meeting, the council considered the question of sidewalk bistro tables. Bay Street Bistro, earlier this year got permission from the city to place tables on the sidewalk, European cafe-style. The request was screened by the public property committee and later approved by the council.

In the past, the city has regulated things like sandwich boards, tables of merchandise and other temporary sidewalk accoutrements as an accessibility issue overseen by the code enforcement officer. ADA rules require at least four feet of passage on sidewalks. Bistro tables must adhere to that regulation, as well.

With the Bay Street Bistro’s request, and a later request from Cafe Gabrielle, the council discussed a more formal process of permitting and oversight.
tables
They initially suggested charging a fee of $10 per month for business owners whose applications for sidewalk tables or benches are approved. But Public Works Director Mark Dorsey reminded the council that the sidewalk right-of-way is actually under the state Department of Transportation, which owns Highway 166 (Bay Street).

Dorsey at an earlier meeting with the council opined that the city shouldn’t be the one charging a fee, since the ROW belongs to the state. The ROW runs from the center line of the road to the edge of the building.

Dorsey thought (mistakenly he later found) that the issue of jurisdictional authority could be resolved if the city simply didn’t charge a fee with its sidewalk table permit. He called the DOT and spoke to an official who said not only should the city not charge a fee, they had no authority to grant the sidewalk table permit in the first place. That ball is in the DOT’s court, Dorsey was told.

The state would charge about $90 a month for granting permission to place bistro tables in the right-of-way, he found.

“They take it very seriously that someone is using that right-of-way and making money off it,” Dorsey said.

The council stepped out as middleman Tuesday by approving a revised city permit (that would still give the city oversight over ADA issues) with a notice/disclaimer that the applicant also needs to apply to the state for use of the right-of-way.

“Whether they do or not is between them and WSDOT,” said City Attorney Greg Jacoby.

Voila, problem solved. The issue of whether business owners can afford the $90 fee becomes “an economic decison on the part of the vendor,” Jacoby said. “That’s really a private business decision.”

How much of Port Orchard does Samadpour own?

On Wednesday the languishing Myhre’s building was purchased by Abadan Holdings LLC of Lake Forest Park, the company owned by Mansour Samadpour.
Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 11.05.58 AM
Over the past decade Samadpour, a real estate investor and world renowned microbiologist, has accumulated ownership in a significant percentage of Bay Street real estate. Here’s a summary of what he owns (the buildings, not the businesses that lease from him, all on Bay Street): Dance Gallery (702), Port Orchard Pavillion (701), Cafe Gabrielle (707), Port Orchard Public Market (715), Old Central Antique Mall (801), Coffee Oasis (807) and the space next to coffee oasis, vacant (809) and now Myhre’s (2 parcels 737 and 739).

Samdpour is notably media shy. I couldn’t get any comment from him on his plans for Myhre’s, but Bryan Petro of Windermere Real Estate, who negotiated the sale, said it’s likely it will be leased as some sort of restaurant or pub.

Seller Dick Rylander, whose family has had an interest in Myhre’s since 1930, said he felt a little “wistful” about the sale. My story includes a thumbnail history of the place from Rylander’s perspective.

People who complain about “all those vacancies” on Bay Street are running out of argumentative ammo, what with the reoccupation of the bakery and the opening of the public market. Myhre’s and the Los Cabos building are the most conspicuous vacant buildings on Bay Street. Farther west on Bay, Robert Earl Lighthouse opened this week in “the Lighthouse building.”

So hold your head up Port Orchard. And oh by the way, we have hanging flower baskets, too. Just like Bremerton.

What would you like to see at the Myhre’s building?

What’s being built on Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale?

Brynn writes:

3150BucklinHillRd

Whenever a new building goes in on a busy road in Silverdale, people start talking about what business is moving to the area.

That’s the case with the latest building that is nearing completion at 3150 NW Bucklin Hill Road, not far from the road’s intersection with Silverdale Way and across the street from Taco Time and Hop Jack’s.

A quick search of county records shows the tax statements go to Barber Investments Bucklin LLC with a Redmond PO Box. I found a similar name, Barber Development LLC, on permit data tied to the property and looked it up to find owner Andy Barber who has a business address in Kirkland.

I called Barber a few weeks ago to see what businesses he had lined up to fill the building and he asked me to email him my questions. We got off the phone and I sent him the email. I’m still waiting for his response.

Impatient and wanting to answer people’s questions (more than a few of you have “Facebooked”, emailed and called about the property), I started looking through the county’s records to see what I could find out about the property.

So far the only business on record is Little Caesar’s Pizza, which applied for a commercial tenant improvement permit and a commercial concurrency certificate from the county. Both were approved July 15.

Barber applied to the county a year ago in August for a site development activity permit to build on the 0.77-acre lot that is zoned regional commercial. Specific businesses were not named at the time of the permit, but Barber indicated the 6,760-square-foot building would be equipped to handle general retail, office space and/or restaurant uses, according to the application. Forty parking spaces will go in behind the building and a rain garden to handle the stormwater run off.

If I hear back from Barber that he has other tenants lined up I’ll write an update, but until then hopefully this helps answers some of the questions.

Roger Gay gives a pop quiz

Roger Gay, a regular reader and commenter on the Kitsap Sun’s website, posted a comment on today’s story about the Port Orchard’s sales tax revenue boost due to annexations.

Roger begins:
“Why did Home Depot withdraw from building in Port Orchard? What is the expected impact from the apartment complex’s being built at the Sidney/Sedgwick intersection? What happened to the proposed roundabouts on Tremont and improvements to that corridor? Has the new waterside park facilities and trail in downtown Port Orchard increased downtown walk about traffic? When is the farmers market facility scheduled to open?

I felt like I was in eighth grade, walking into class and getting a pop quiz.

Roger went on to say that with recent improvements, Port Orchard actually seems to have it going on, whereas Bremerton … not so much. Roger, correct me if I’ve misstated your opinion.

Anyway, I got out my number two pencil and jumped in to answer Roger’s questions, which many of you may have as well:

Home Depot: Company sales projections didn’t justify moving forward, although HD has done most of the heavy lifting on the site, which is now set for any other big box store that wants to try its luck on the Bethel Corridor.

Tremont Street: Roundabouts were redesigned over a period of several years in part to better accommodate emergency vehicles. The city used federal grants for much of the $3.6 million it took for design and right-of-way acquisition. The city needs $15 million to build the gateway project. City Engineer Mark Dorsey will apply I believe in August to the state Transporaiton Improvement Board. The city will need to come up with an additional $2.7 for undergrounding utilities and other costs not covered by the grant. According to Dorsey, the fact the city used any federal money on Tremont means the clock is ticking on the project. There has been a tightening of rules regarding federal transportation money so that projects don’t just get started and lie the fallow. I’m guessing when and if the $15 m grant comes through, we at the Kitsap Sun will hear Dorsey’s whoop of excitement across Sinclair Inlet.

Apartment Complex: The Sidney, a 105-apartment complex at the corner of Sidney and Sedgewick, is open and leasing. In fact the council discussed the impact of the project at an April meeting. Rush Construction met all requirements for traffic and environmental impacts, Dorsey told the council. All of this was reviewed in detail and approved by the city’s hearing examiner several years ago, so if the council had any concerns about the size of the project or its impact on the surrounding area, the horse is out of that barn, Dorsey in essence said. The council agreed to look carefully at urban density regulations within the city the next time its comprehensive plan comes up for review. City planners are already working on population estimates to get ready for that process.

Port Orchard Market: In June contractors working on the building (which is actually two or three buildings spliced together) found a wall that they weren’t expecting, meaning they had to do a redesign of the facade. That required going back to the city for another permit, which I have heard was recently issued. Don Ryan, who is heading up the project, was reluctant to say exactly when the market will open so as not to disappoint, but the project is not dead, he said.

Port Orchard Marina Park: Based on my general observations (and especially the night of the July 4th fireworks) people are loving the park expansion, with its viewing platform, pedestrian path and interactive mural. Unfortunately, the new features attracted vandals, but POPD is on it.

Oh, and BTW, the newly renovated DeKalb Pier is to open soon, and it looks really classy.

As for cooperation between Port Orchard and Bremerton, there has been considerable talk and some action on that front. The cities and the Port of Bremerton partnered on expanded summer hours for the foot ferry between the two towns.

If you count the recent opening of the South Kitsap Skatepark, you might say, yes, there is a sense of momentum right now in good old PO/South Kitsap. I can say that city and port generated projects are the result of years of government wheels grinding slowly.

Chris Henry, reporter

Here’s a video of the skatepark opening:

The Bay Street Report: works in progress

Old buildings, they’re like that box of chocolates in “Forrest Gump” — you never know what you’re going to get.

The old Slip 45 building, now being transformed into a public market, has hatched more than its share of surprises. The discovery of asbestos caused a delay last year. A new hitch has impeded progress on the market — billed as a Pike Place-style venue — but the project is still on track, says local businessman Don Ryan, who leases the building from Seattle-area property owner Mansour Samadpour.

Samadpour in 2012 agreed to invest in renovation of the building at 715 Bay Street. Ryan had hoped to open the market last summer, but he and Samadpour, whose investment has crept from $300,000 to nearly $600,000, used the delay to improve the design. Ryan now is shooting for this summer … sometime.

The latest hitch, which has slowed work to a crawl, was the discovery of two walls back to back where the facade of the building is to be built. The property, although listed by the assessor as a single structure, is made up of at least two, possibly three buildings, Ryan said. The assessor’s office says it dates to 1935.

The wall configuration means the façade must be re-engineered or redesigned to meet city standards for structural integrity. Once the city of Port Orchard, construction can resume at full speed ahead, possibly by next week, Ryan said. Vendors will then build their own kiosk-style spaces inside the market, which will offer fresh produce and flowers, cheese, seafood, beer, meat and more.

Ryan remains intentionally vague about pinpointing an opening date, because you never know ….

Down on the 600 block, another project under wraps is chugging along, according to the couple who plan an “Old World-style” pub on the corner of Bay and Harrison Street (the former Jordan’s Western Wear store).

Stacy Bronson and Dave Tagert, formerly of South Kitsap, opened the Devilfish Public House in Chehalis in 2007 and, emboldened by their success, are planning a second incarnation in Port Orchard.

“We’re not a bar or a saloon or a tavern,” Tagert said.
The Devilfish will be a quiet little gathering place that caters to an older crowd (35+), a place where you can engage in conversation without competition from the big screen or a loud band. The occasional acoustic group might be part of the mix. Microbrews from around the country and hearty pub fare (nothing fried) will be on the menu.

Tagert and Bronson are remodeling the interior themselves, and it will take as long as it takes, they say. Like Ryan, they are hoping to open this summer … sometime. Meantime, brown paper on the windows hides what’s going on inside the former deli.

Both veterans, Bronson and Tagert are looking to hire cooks and bartenders, with preference given to military spouses. The name Devilfish (for octopus) harkens to Tagart’s days as a commercial diver.

The building long owned by the Cohen family is now in the hands of Doug Zimmermann of Seattle.

The DeKalb Pier refurbishment, another Bay Street work in progress, should be complete by early July, said City Engineer Mark Dorsey. The city will replace the viewing platform and some of the crossbeams underneath, and make the platform handicapped accessible.

Neighbors would be notified of extra pets, under PO ordinance

The city of Port Orchard allows residents to have up to three dogs and up to three cats per household. Licensed kennels are excluded from the pet limit.

But what about the family who moves into town with more than the allowed number of dogs or cats? Or the family that inherits a pet from a family member who moves into a nursing home or dies?

For those folks, the city offers a “pet variance.” Up to now, getting a variance has been a simple matter of filling out a form to document “hardship.” The city council recently revising the ordinance to factor in the impact of extra pets on neighbors.

The original proposal, discussed at an April 16 work-study meeting, was to require written permission from neighbors on either side of the residence slated for bonus pets.

The council discussed the issue of barking dogs, the most obvious potential source of annoyance. The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits, “frequent, repetitive or continuous noise made by any animal which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with peace comfort and repose of property owners or possessors …,” Licensed kennels, shelters, vet clinics, pet shops and service dogs are exempted.

Councilman John Clauson pointed out that the number of dogs is not always the issue, when it comes to noise.

“You got five dogs that are little quiet dogs that live in the house, and you never see ‘em, I don’t care if you have 10 of ‘em,” Clauson said. “But you could have one sitting in your backyard that howls all night long, and I’m going to be unhappy.”

City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said the city’s contract with the Kitsap Humane Society covers barking dogs and yowling cats. Animal control officers from KHS are contracted to enforce this part of the city’s nuisance ordinance.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said health and sanitation also were concerns in allowing people to have more than three of any type of pet.

According to Rinearson, three was a somewhat arbitrary number set by the council that established the pet variance ordinance in 1999. Some cities have different limits (up to five dogs in one town she knows of); others have no ordinance limiting the number of pets allowed.

The council, after some discussion, decided it would be adequate to simply notify neighbors on either side if someone applies for a pet variance. The notification would come before the variance is approved. Members of the public can comment on any city council agenda item at the start of each meeting.

“My heartburn was we were constantly granting these with no process, and so the neighbors didn’t know,” said Councilman Rob Putaansuu. “So for me it’s about notifying the neighbors. I think you notice the issue so they know this is coming before us, and if they’ve got heartburn with it, here’s an opportunity to come and testify.”

The council agreed to place the amended ordinance on an upcoming agenda for formal approval.

Another “process” gap in the city’s code is how to handle the occasional request from a business for after-hours music and other goings-on. Such a request came before the council in early April, when Amy Igloi of Amy’s on the Bay sought permission to play music on her deck after 11 p.m. (the city’s noise curfew).

The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits a host of public disturbances between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., including the sound of machinery and power tools like lawn mowers, blowers, grinders, drills and power saws. The code bans loud vehicles and music from both inside and outside buildings, along with “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on or near the public streets” during those hours.

What’s missing, said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, is “a fair and reasonable process that’s applied consistently regardless of who makes the request.”

The city now issues special event permits, reviewed by staff and approved by the council. Jacoby said the council might choose to roll the music-after-hours requests in with special events.

Several people at the meeting raised the concern about “what if” authorized events became a magnet for complaints either because of mismanagement by the business owner or in spite of their best efforts and intentions.

Rinearson said then-Cmdr. Geoffrey Marti, now Port Orchard’s police chief, suggests that such events be allowed on a one-time basis only, not as recurring events.

Marti said his officers get many complaints about noise after 11 p.m., coming from both inside and outside Bay Street establishments.

Two city residents who were at the meeting testified to the remarkable ability of noise to carry up the hill from Bay Street.

“I hear the music all the time. It wakes me up,” said Bek Ashby, who is a member of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, a business owners group.

The council was in a quandary as to how to proceed on the after-curfew music question. Rinearson offered to see how other cities handle the issue and get back to them at a future meeting.

Fishing town popular with Kitsap anglers struggling

Raise your hand if you were in Sekiu this past weekend.

On our annual fill-the-freezer excursion to the little fishing town two miles west of Clallam Bay (19 miles East of Neah Bay), it seemed one in every six people had a Kitsap connection.

Sekiu shrinks and swells on the tides of anglers who come and go with the fish runs. In winter it dwindles to a handful of residents who probably know each other way too well (some escape to the warmth and anonymity of Arizona). During salmon season, though, the hillsides are chock-a-block with RVs perched above the bay, barely tucked in from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada within spitting distance.

The accommodations are nothing fancy, but the view is spectacular. Bottle green water, sparkling with beds of kelp that sway and twirl in the currents. Mist shrouded forests and strange rock formations, like Mussolini Rock, with the tuft of trees growing on its top looks like the Italian dictator’s military cap. There are seals, sea birds and the occasional porpoise or whale passing through. On this visit we saw a sea elephant about two miles from shore bobbing on the surface long enough to get a gulp of air then sliding down into the water.

At dawn, fishermen (and the occasional woman) lug on their muckboots, fill their thermoses and fire up their motors, lighting out on the heaving waters like a swarm of bees. If the bite is on, they’ll limit out before noon and spend the rest of the day swapping fish stories. Word of how deep to fish and where they’re biting spreads like a virus. If there is a #Sekiu on Twitter, it’s overkill.

A glamorous resort town this is not. The docks are splattered with excrement from great clouds of seagulls that flock like brazen thugs around the fish cleaning stations, mewling for a handout of guts. The smell is distinctly horrific, sometimes tinged with a pleasant waft of salt air from the open water.

The anglers don’t seem to care about the smell. For many the trip to Sekiu is an annual ritual, like summer camp for adults. When they’re not fishing, you might find them tending the smoker or vacuum-sealing their catch. The anglers drop plenty of dough on Sekiu. They eat in the handful of restaurants, buy bait, tackle and ice at the stores, and pay for moorage and RV or tent spaces.

Those who live here year ’round to operate the eateries and rustic resorts make much of their annual income during these few frenzied weeks when the fish are running. The recession hit them hard, but the town had been struggling years before the bottom dropped out of the housing market.

On the west side of town, a decaying dock is all that’s left of a once bustling fish cannery from decades past. Here and there are abandoned, boarded up buildings. The properties that remain open are sagging, a little seedy. The fishermen don’t care, but the symptoms don’t bode well for Sekiu.

Challenges facing resort owners are often invisible to visitors. For example, there was the storm of 2006 that took out the parking lot of Van Riper’s Resort. Repairing the damage took a quarter million dollars worth of fill.

There’s another problem, age, not of the properties but the owners. Barbara, who owns The Breakwater restaurant, is in her mid-60s. She has a 5-year-old granddaughter to raise and a grandson to help through college, so she’s not actively looking for a buyer. But the place has been listed since before her husband died four years ago.

In the old days, The Breakwater had no “off season.” If it wasn’t the fishermen, it was the loggers, who lined up outside the door on payday. Now, what logging goes on, the workers live out of town, she said. These days, the place stays busy enough, but nothing like it used to be.

Barbara and her cohorts are beyond ready for something new. Van Ripers is for sale. So is Olsons, the largest resort in town, as well as many smaller properties.

“We’re all tired,” said Barbara, a warm and friendly woman with a white apron around her waist, who makes homemade pies and cakes, and a mean prime rib.

Barbara would work with any prospective buyer for her place, should one step forward. There’s a lot of memories in the old place. “I just want whoever takes it over to succeed,” she said.

New sign on the Bremerton skyline

The sign people hope will be a local landmark for years to come goes up on Tuesday morning.
I’ve made a call to the operators of the new theater in Bremerton to triple check the planned opening of the facility at 4 p.m. Friday.

If you’ve driven by the place you might have noticed the Madagascar 3 and Prometheus posters. There is room for more, last I looked and the signature signage was going up Tuesday morning. That’s what you see here.

This is the latest addition to downtown that has those who champion the city keeping their fingers crossed this will work.

For it to work it means some people will have to change habits. For anything new to work that’s a requirement. For me it would mean going to more movies while they’re in the theaters. I actually think this place might make that happen for me. Particularly if a movie has relevance to the subject matter here or on the Kitsap Caucus blog I will be more likely to go. I will also say that my wife and I will often travel a longer distance to watch a movie in a theater we like rather than going to the most convenient locale. If this theater lives up to its promise it could become our new favorite.

Some of you, I know, don’t like how all this went down. It may be the public investment in the parking garage that gets you. It could be Gary Sexton’s management of the project. Now there are questions about how much workers were paid in building the facility and a spate of documents soon to be released could spark other questions.

A worker attaches the Seefilm sign to the new movie theater.

All of this may leave just enough of a bad taste in your mouth to make you committed to not go to the movie theater, for fear that doing so only encourages more of the same behavior you don’t like.

Or, even if you don’t like it, you might be like my uncle. He was against the funding mechanism for both of the downtown stadiums in Seattle. Now that they’re done, he has told me, he’s going to enjoy them. I went to a Mariners game with him once, so I know he’s telling the truth.

I mentioned in a Kitsap Caucus blog post I might want to have some friends with me when The Campaign is released. It’s Aug. 10. No takers yet.

Former Bremerton kid joins Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright

Steven Holl's design of a museum of surf in France netted him a prestigious design award in the same year he is getting architecture's biggest honor.
Steven Holl, a West High School grad who hit the big time in the world of architecture, will be honored with the highest praise architects give each other. He will also be praised for his design of a surf museum in France.

Holl will receive the American Institute of Architects 2012 Gold Medal, which to me seems like the architect’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize or Oscar. Only in some ways it’s way bigger than that.

Consider that one of the past winners was Thomas Jefferson, posthumously, and you get the idea that no architect is ever out of the running for the prize. So Holl’s selection is even more impressive.

The award honors a lifetime of work and was announced earlier this month. From the AIA press release:

Holl and his firm, Steven Holl Architects have completed projects that tackle the urban-scale planning and development conundrums that define success in the built environment throughout the world. He’s able to work with diverse clients to get his projects executed, all while being a tenured professor at Columbia University.

Though Holl is a West High grad, he is on tap to be the designer of the Teen Wellness Center the city is planning for the site of the former East High School campus next to Albertson’s. Chris Henry wrote a the first story of Holl’s involvement in 2009, when it was first announced he would donate his work to get the center built in his old home town.

Holl will receive his Gold Medal in May at AIA’s national convention in Washington, D.C. The AIA press release follows, as does the release about his win for the work he did on the French surf museum.

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A Winter’s tail, the sequel

In September, I wrote about Isabel Powell, 11, of Port Orchard, whose lower leg was amputated when she was 2 due to a vascular malformation.

Isabel has worn a prosthesis since then, and very little slows her down. She’s taken up karate and loves to swim.

Through the clinic in Bremerton where she has the prosthesis checked, Isabel met Kevin Carroll the famous prosthetist who designed an artificial tail for Winter the dolphin. Winter got tangled in a fishing net and lost her own tail. She now lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and stars as herself in a recently released movie. That’s Winter on the right being nuzzled by a friend.

Carroll used his connections to send Powell and her mother to Florida for an expense-paid visit to Winter and participation in Camp No Limits, for children with prostheses. Isabel, who got back from the trip last Sunday, felt a “connection” with the dolphin, said her mother. “She was really excited.”

Through the camp, Isabel took part in a range of activities including swimming at the beach, yoga and a high ropes course. But her favorite part of the trip was meeting Winter.

Through no particular plan, I, too, happened to be in Clearwater recently, since my sister lives there. We visited the aquarium, and my sister described how it has blossomed from this quiet and slightly run-down roadside attraction to a bustling tourist destination. We saw a large new wing under construction, thanks no doubt to whatever cut the aquarium gets from the movie, plus revenue from increased traffic and gift shop sales of Winter paraphrenalia.

The aquarium remains focused on its first mission, animal rescue, rehabilitation and (if possible) release. We saw sea turtles, otters and other dolphins who had been found injured and nursed back to health.

The newest addition is Hope, a baby dolphin who was found trying to nurse on her dead mother. Staff members are working with Hope to train and socialize her as they have Winter. Like Winter, Hope would not survive in the wild and so will remain at the aquarium. Here’s Hope during a training session.

Winter’s story of misfortune and inspiring adaptation, and the movie that resulted from it, have been a tremendous boon the the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, according to staff, who have quickly learned how to manage the crowds of curious visitors. Although is seemed a bit hectic, especially in the gift shop, I can testify that nobody is complaining about the extra work.