Howard Minor’s Downtown PO Swan Song

Perhaps you’ve noticed the gaping hole in Bay Street.

Demolition of the building that formerly stood at 731 Bay Street, in between Myhe’s restaurant and the former Mako’s bar, is nearly complete, according to James Weaver, Port Orchard’s new director of development.

Howard Minor, a retired dentist and active property manager, said he got tired of trying to keep up with flooding that plagued the two-story building over the 45 years he has owned it. Although he fixed the problem (multiple times), he said, he could no longer get insurance coverage.

Apparently the city had issues with the building, as well.
“As part of maintaining public safety downtown, the abatement, demolition and removal of the asbestos from the unstable building has been a two-year effort to resolve the outstanding issues with the boarded up structure,” said Weaver. ” Considerable efforts have been expended by city staff in cooperation with the building owner since November of 2005 to provide a safe downtown environment on Bay Street while the dangerous entryway and sidewalk collapse were resolved.”

There were adjacent marquee repairs next to the building to make sure that facade was not further compromised “while the owners resolved theissue of the failing building,” Weaver said. “The owners ultimately arranged for demolition of the structure in lieu of necessary repairs.”

Minor applied for and received permission to raze the building, which required asbestos abatement, and he will sell it. The asking price is $340,000. Not bad for a place for which he he paid $15,000.

Over the years, Minor rented out the five units within the roughly 5,000 square foot building. At one point he owned four properties in the downtown area and multiple properties elsewhere.

Minor, 87, known most recently for his cantankerous rants at city council meetings, built a small empire in South Kitsap properties. “I started the world with $4, and I’ve made over a million,” he said.

But things have changed drastically since Minor began investing in downtown Port Orchard.

“It’s not the same,” he said. “When I first came to town, I was the young buck, and they sure let me know it. When I first came to town, you could buy everything you needed downtown. We bought all our clothes there, our groceries, our doctors were there.”

Then came the department stores in Bremerton, the South Kitsap and Silverdale malls, and ultimately the big box stores everywhere.

Port Orchard merchants are struggling to shrug off the tacky cloak of an economically depressed town center and reinvent Port Orchard as a trendy, upscale place to live, shop and play. It’s a work in progress, a glass-full, glass empty thing. New stores, including a new independent movie theater, new paint jobs and planter boxes are promising signs. But half-painted buildings and less than sufficient infrastructure (as evidenced by major flooding during the Dec. 3 & 4 rain storm) shows PO has a long ways to go.

Minor retired from dentistry just a few years ago. A heart operation “was the only excuse I could come up with” for calling it quits, he said. Otherwise, he’s still going strong.

“I lucked out. I’ve got the longevity of my mother and the brains of my father,” said Minor, who has no plans to retire from the rental business, at least outside the downtown core.

The 731 Bay Street property is the last of the downtown sites he owns, and he is currently entertaining offers from interested parties. Minor in the past could be seen standing on a ladder painting his buildings according to a color scheme he proposed, but he’s ready to hand the metaphorical brush over to someone else.

Weaver said there’s a chance other antiquated downtown buildings could go the way of 731 Bay St., but it’s too early to elaborate, he said.

Contact Weaver with questions or concerns at (360) 876-4991.

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