Somewhere in the Night

Key to the revitalization of downtown Bremerton is anything that will bring people (except for the criminals) to the area. City leaders picture condo residents getting off their couches and walking over to Boston’s Pizza, or Smiley’s, or an as-of-yet unnamed, unconfirmed and unknown grocery store to eat or shop. It’s the impetus behind the tunnel, the expectation that people will be strolling downtown streets.

Last night my daughter got off the ferry around 11:30 p.m. after the Mariners game. We barely made the ferry, but that’s another issue. Within the couple blocks around the terminal, things were hopping, mostly from us ferry passengers.

Once we got to Burwell, however, it was dead. I suspect it will be a while before that changes much.

The announcement that Bryman College is moving to downtown, away from Gorst, has the potential of having the most impact in encouraging some businesses to stay open later, according to the chamber’s Silvia Klatman. While students probably won’t be hanging around downtown when I get back from the Mariners’ games, they could be shopping in stores and grabbing some bites at local restaurants during some evening hours.

It could take some pressure off those condo residents we’re all expecting to turn things around for Bremerton.

11 thoughts on “Somewhere in the Night

  1. May I ask if you believe there will be enough condo residents to support downtown Bremerton? I thought the issue was to attract folks from outside the area to visit Bremerton? Give the a reason to hop on a ferry and come spend the day in Bremerton.
    Will the new folks or condo folks coming to visit and walk the new charming Bremerton be as thrilled as I wasn’t to notice the old Penney’s/Bremers Department store building filled to the rafters with parked cars?
    What I’ve noticed is the new condo buildings block the interesting waterside view from anyone driving or walking around downtown.
    What do you imagine the attraction to visit downtown Bremerton is?
    Maybe folks will enjoy strolling around watching the parked cars well protected inside an expensive real estate building?

  2. Sharon,

    I shant offer my own opinion about whether the residents in the condos will be enough to “support” downtown. I will say, however, that those in charge are not solely relying on them. There are also hotels going in, more residences desired, a new marina to attract more boaters and other factors that are hoped to improve the climate. As for visitors, most would concede there’s more there for them now than there was a few years ago.

    As for the new owners and their opinion of the Penney’s building, the people who have already bought condos have surely seen the building. And I will say on one side there are those trying to pressure changes there, while the Bremer Trust folks (the owners) are willing to listen, but don’t want to sacrifice something that’s generating money for the trust. That money goes to Olympic College. So far, there hasn’t been an alternative presented that’s acceptable to the trust’s board.

    As for the view being blocked, most people I’ve talked to (and be clear I’m not sharing my own opinion) consider the condos a vast improvement over what was there. It does inhibit the view for drivers, but there are peak-a-boo views for them. Walkers on Washington have that as well, and pedestrians have a waterfront boardwalk where they can enjoy the view anyway. Once the funding is in place the city is also planning an extended boardwalk where walkers will be able to walk over the water all the way to Evergreen Park.

    I do hear complaints about how the city arrived at the results, but not much about the results themselves.

    I suppose the two exceptions are the tunnel (which was opposed by some, but endorsed by the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce) and the influx of businesses that aren’t local.

  3. Steven,
    I was born in Bremerton almost 70 years ago. I care what happens to my home town and I WANT it to thrive and be again or better than, the active fun place it was, the Bremerton I remember.
    Why do you suppose business moved out of Bremerton to begin with?
    As far as the present condo buildings being a better ‘view’ than what was there…well, some folks think a concreted or landfilled over wetland better appearing than the wetland itself was.
    The condo buildings look like buildings, nothing interesting about them – except for the condo resident.
    But then, I prefer observing critters in our wetlands over observing folks in concrete buildings.

    The Bremer Trust certainly has the right to use their building to park cars. I’m giving my opinion on what I see has happened to my town while driving through on my way to the ferry.

    Why would local business owners oppose the tunnel idea? I would think they would WANT the increased to their bottom line such a tunnel would generate in dollars back to them.

    Let me know when the new boardwalk is in place, I’ll bring my recumbent trike down and cycle over water to Evergreen Park.

  4. Sharon-

    There is a saying on the Internet that reads, “Don’t feed the trolls.” I feel compelled to feed though. *shrug*

    Will the condo residents who will be living downtown a year from now support downtown Bremerton—absolutely not. They alone are not intended to, however their presence downtown coupled with a number of other factors are the types of things investors look for in a downtown. The projects that are occurring downtown are establishing a market, a market that has long since left Bremerton but is slowly making its way back. Once investors realize the potential in our downtown, stand back and watch Bremerton take off.

    Anyone who has come to downtown Bremerton has seen the Penny’s Building. It’s the giant eyesore behind the credit union as you approach on the ferry or the beige behemoth as you enter downtown off Pacific Ave. What you are not seeing is the potential in the building–it’s a structurally sound building right in the heart of the Harborside District. The Mayor and the City of Bremerton realize this. Ron Sher, who has developed a number of “3rd Places” or retail magnets (see Crossroads Mall), realizes the potential in this building. The Bremer Trust is starting to realize this and it’s just a matter of time before a grocery store, a bookstore, workforce housing/apartments, etc. are realized in the same location.

    As a connoisseur of fine architecture, I can tell you that Bremerton has a few nice buildings on its hands—the Kitsap Conference Center, the Norm Dicks Government Center, and the yet to be completed Harborside Condominiums. It won’t be until the building is fully completed that people will truly realize the beauty of a building clad in glass and metal, especially one that is perched right above the water. I can already envision the water sparkling off the glass as I approach Bremerton by ferry or the Manette Bridge–a fine diamond in a jeweler’s box if you will. And its appearance won’t be just to please those who live within it, but to everyone who passes by what used to be waterfront parking lots with breathtaking view of Sinclair Inlet.

  5. GP:
    Another old saying on the internet:
    Be wary of the anonymous poster.

    What do you envision for the traffic solution?
    What – beside the new buidings – will attract new visitors to stroll the streets?

  6. There is no nail in the coffin solution to dealing with the traffic issues in Bremerton. I do believe there are a number of approaches towards dealing with the amount of cars that do come downtown.

    There needs to be better utilization of Public Transportation. If more people were taking advantage of Kitsap Transit’s resources, it would help to alleviate some of the traffic and parking woes we encounter downtown.

    Another shipyard parking garage is needed downtown. There are a number of ways to make this work in favor of the shipyard (to make it profitable), but efforts to make their current parking garage profitable were dismissed and ignored.

    The ferry tunnel is an essential piece to downtown. It’s important that downtown remains walk-able and with ferry traffic, it makes this task difficult. When the ferry currently comes in, Washington Ave, Pacific Ave, and Burwell Street become barriers to the waterfront—the very thing we are developing and resting our redevelopment efforts on. The way I see it, transportation is a problem all over the state. If the money has already been earmarked for Bremerton, why not take it and address our ferry traffic interruption.

  7. More folks will utilize public transportation when they have no choice.

    Establish parking lots outside of town and offer free bus transportation downtown. Ban downtown parking for ALL employees, students, etc., including shipyard workers.

    During the time the Hood Canal Bridge was down, we were offered many modes of transportation from Jefferson County to the Kitsap side.
    The most interesting and enjoyable was the foot ferry and bus connection. We had no choice in the matter (excluding driving around)

    Why the insistance on downtown driving and parking?

  8. Hi Steve,
    Welcome back. It’s good to see the developments going on downtown. I think putting retail stores that are NOT in Silverdale would attract folks from all over Kitsap. (although, it seems like everything is in Silverdale) Namely, Trader Joes. A drug store would be good also. I live in Midtown. I also commute to Seattle five days a week and the last thing I want to do is get in the car and drive to Kitsap Way or Fred Meyer.

  9. I am from Seattle, but lived for six years in Port Orchard until last year. During those years I commuted two years via the Bremerton ferry and the last four via Southworth.

    Downtown Bremerton definitely is on the right track! With prices of housing ANYWHERE in the City of Seattle, you can surely bet the values of homes in Bremerton, particularly West Bremerton and Mannette(walking distance or short bus ride to ferry)will continue their upward trend. They have to. Many folks enjoy urban amenities see Bremerton as a viable alternative to Seattle, with its own unique qualities (i. e. smaller, safer, quieter, close to Hood Canal and the rest of beautiful Kitsap and the Olympic Penninsula) AND still an easy commute to the city, all for nearly half the cost of a comparable Seattle home.

    The Boardwalk and the marina will be wonderful new public amenities that capitalize on the natural beauty that Kitsap offers. Population and growth is happening everywhere and Bremerton, particularly, Mayor Bozeman, have had the vision to see Bremerton’s potential.

    As the owner of a home in Port Orchard that looks across the Inlet toward Bremerton and the Olympics, it is easy to see how the new development of Anthony’s, condos, and sailboats from the marina will balance and soften Bremerton’s previous military and industrial look.

    The Bremer Trust Board need should understand that a health City of Bremerton will benefit Olympic CC more in the long run than the revenue from the parking garage. Seems like there should be simple way to leverage and parlay that property into a money-making equation, that would a win-win situation for both their interests and those of downtown Bremerton and indirectly, all the residents of Bremerton and South Kitsap.

  10. My wife and i will be living in the 400 condos soon. I am a long-time commercial real estate agent and have been involved in economic development in Issaquah. I can tell you at least the condos offer public access to the waterfront – unlike what was there or could have been there. The condos, marina, and the JC Penny’s store developments are all just part of the new life of downtown Bremerton. The tunnel, the parks, and what is still affordable housing are more. It already has changed so much over the past five years for the better!

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