Pick a Theme for Downtown Port Orchard

Leavenworth has that Bavarian thing going. Poulsbo is Scandinavian. Winthop looks like a scene from “Bonanza.” What should Port Orchard’s theme be?

That’s the question a group of building owners is tossing around, since the Port Orchard City Council has deleted from its proposed downtown plan a provision that new buildings should “embody the distinctive characteristics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

The group is still in the brainstorming stage, said Kris Swartz of Amajin Architecture Inc. of Port Orchard, but when they can settle on a theme, they will propose it to the council, unified, as Mel Wyles, the mayor of picturesque Leavenworth, suggested at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Maybe they could use some help. Let’s get creative here folks. What’ll it be? Maybe something related to Fathoms ‘O Fun, like wrought iron seaweed facades, seahorse shaped benches, whale spout water fountains. OK, you can do better — much better — so bring it on.

Read more on downtown Port Orchard and the status of its downtown plan Monday, when the Kitsap Sun runs a story about a recent city council meeting where a group of downtown Port Orchard building owners and their supporters showed up wearing hard hats. Their message was, “Git ’er done!” The downtown plan that is.

2 thoughts on “Pick a Theme for Downtown Port Orchard

  1. What the Pacific Northwest (and the whole country, for that matter) does NOT need is another “theme park” downtown, a la Leavenworth or Winthrop in Washington, Solvang in California, etc. It’s been done (in some cases, successfully), but it’s also been overdone and does not bear repeating here in Port Orchard, in my opinion. How about something smarter and more original? If Port Orchard has to emulate somebody, how about Columbus, Indiana? By rigorous and intelligent standards for architecture, this small city has won international acclaim for the results. Just “google” Columbia, Indiana and see what comes up. The end results of their efforts (which admittedly took decades) sound like just what Port Orchard should be looking for — enhanced economic development, rising socioeconomic standards, praiseworthy livability, and a declining crime rate. I bet Port Orchard could come up with it’s own, original version of this concept and apply it equally well or better. For one thing, look at the “bones” (i.e., existing downtown structures, topography, water) that we’ve got to start with, which Columbus, Indiana did not have. Just an idea …

  2. Ron makes a number of good points.

    Another thought is to really look hard at characteristics that make up an excellent downtown – walkable, fine scaled, materials that stand looking at from 5 feet away at 1 or 2 miles an hour. Decent parking that is coordinated among property owners for greater efficiency.

    Strong connections to the waterfront – really strong connections.

    I can go lots of places to spend my money on meals and “stuff”, but doing that next to the water makes Port Orchard competitive.

    Port Orchard is blessed with an outstanding location. Capitalize on that and a theme is irrelevant.

    Remember “Port” and Port Orchard can be great.

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