Category Archives: Development

The Truth About Trader Joe’s

Brynn Grimley writes:

I’m here to set the rumor mill straight: Trader Joe’s is not coming to Kitsap County.

At least not in the next two years, according to Alison Mochizuki, a spokeswoman for the company.

Since arriving at the Kitsap Sun four years ago I think I’ve heard every rumor imaginable that Trader Joe’s is coming to Kitsap — more specifically Silverdale. I’ve also heard varying reasons for why they haven’t located here yet. But it’s all been speculation by people who love the store and really, really, really, really, REALLY want to see the chain open in Kitsap. (Heck they have 14 locations in Western Washington, what’s one more, right?)

The latest rumor came Monday when someone called our newsroom to say an employee of the University District Place Trader Joe’s confirmed the company had signed a lease for a building in Silverdale.

I called Mochizuki at Trader Joe’s corporate office in California leaving a message to see if there was any truth to the rumor that Kitsap might become the latest county to sell “Two-Buck Chuck” (ps it really should be called Three-Buck Chuck since it costs more than $2 in this state, but that’s neither here nor there).

She called me back a few hours later leaving this message on my voicemail: “At this time Kitsap is not in our two-year plan of opening a location.” She went on to say that Silverdale was also not a part of that two-year plan.

For those who have never been to a Trader Joe’s, the best way to describe it is a small grocery store with style. The walls are decorated with cedar planks, the employees wear Hawaiian shirts, and the inventory ranges from everyday ingredients like milk to specialty products that are hard to find anywhere else. Trader Joe’s offered a large organic selection years before organic became popular for the masses.

The company is probably most well known for its “Two-Buck Chuck”, or Charles Shaw wine that it sells for cheap. It’s a decent wine for the price — which you really appreciate when you’re a college student with minimal spending money in your pocket (or a recent college grad looking for a job to support your “Two-Buck Chuck” habit, not that I know from personal experience or anything).

So while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it seemed only appropriate I set the record straight and let the 806 people who joined the Facebook group “Citizens of Kitsap County, WA Beg For a Trader Joe’s” they’ll have to wait a little longer to see their dreams realized.

PO Tourism Committee Morphs Toward Economic Development

April 22: Oops sorry, wrong poll .The wrong poll was displayed with this post since yesterday. The correct poll is up now. CTH

The time has come, members of Port Orchard City Council’s tourism committee said Tuesday, for the committee to expand its duties to include economic development.

To date, the committee has focused mainly on working with the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, nonprofits and local businesses on special events that draw visitors, such as the city’s Chimes and Lights Festival, the Seagull Calling Contest and last summer’s Cedar Cove Days.

Paying more attention to economic development would be a natural progression, said committee chairman Jerry Childs. Committee members, including Childs, Jim Colebank and Fred Chang, have been looking at cities like Poulsbo and Leavenworth as models.

Childs said the committee would coordinate with Mayor Lary Coppola, who so far has been the city’s designee and spokesman in attempts to attract new business. Coppola has already hosted some focus groups with selected business owners.

One of the committee’s ideas is to host an economic development page on the city’s Web site with information on permitting and other resources related to economic development. The Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce has a resource page for prospective and current businesses, but, said Chang, it’s not the committee’s intention to reinvent the wheel.

“I don’t think we intend to duplicate anything that’s already being done,” said Chang, speaking as an individual committee member and not for the committee. “If we do a website, we’d want to plug a gap where there is one. It’s certainly not intended as a slap to anyone.”

One business owner willing to take a gamble on Port Orchard is Melinda Brown and her partner Shane Makoviney, who will open Melinda Lee’s at 810 Bay Street on May 1. Shane is a clock repairman; Melinda is an artist and gardener. Their store will offer a potpourri of artwork, garden starts, gifts and sundry supplies that would be useful to boaters.

Lee is bullish on Port Orchard. She sees a positive momentum in the downtown mix of stores despite the economy. “We love Bay Street and believe in it and believe in what it could be,” she said.

Of course Port Orchard business extends outside the downtown district, and the committee will pay attention to those folks as well, Chang said.

Colebank said, “it’s not as important to draw new business as it is to keep our current businesses happy.”

So what should city government do to make the city a business friendly place? Parking you say? Right, it’s on their to-do list. What are your other beefs, worries or needs? Take the survey on the homepage.

Look … Over There

Those of you with property in downtown Port Orchard may want to mosey over to the Kitsap Caucus for a look at a map of FEMA’s designated flood zones, downloaded from the City of Port Orchard’s Web site.

The map relates to a post I made about business owner Rudy Swensen and his plans to renovate his building at 710 Bay Street with a New Orleans theme. Swensen has to pay a hefty premium on a small business loan he secured because the building is in a flood zone. Flooding in 2007 is part of the reason for the renovation, he said.

Who Owns Woods View?

By Chris Henry
With foreclosure pending on the Woods View development, proposed for 78 homes on 12 acres along Woods Road, neighbors are wondering who is responsible for the land.
Earlier this week, neighbor June Garrett-Groshong, a member of the Beaver Creek Conservation Group, questioned who would be held accountable to protect Beaver Creek from run-off from the site while negotiations on the foreclosure are still in progress. The site is partially cleared and covered with straw.
The Kitsap County auditor’s office shows the legal owner of the property as Woods View II LLC. Darlene Piper, who owns a law firm in Port Orchard, formerly owned Woods View II LLC but said on Tuesday she is no longer the owner.
According to Guy Beckett, a Seattle attorney representing Piper in a legal claim against Kitsap County related to the development, the legal owner of Woods View II LLC is Beckett Trust. Yes, Beckett said, it’s no accident his name is on the trust, but he is not the legal owner of Woods View II LLC either.
Beckett explained that the trust was set up some time ago as “an estate planning” tool and that it had nothing to do with the legal and logistical morass Woods View, the development, has become.
A significant issue is an on-site, self-contained sewer treatment system that will serve the single-family homes. One lender backed out over the appearance that the system classified the development as a condominium project, said Dave Walden of John L. Scott in Port Orchard, who has worked with Woods View since 2005.
According to Walden, a new potential lender has been identified, and a semantic change names the entity responsible for the system as a homeowners association.
Woods View II LLC owes First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of Tacoma more than $1.2 million. Terrence J. Donahue, the attorney representing First-Citizens in the foreclosure, did not return calls from the Kitsap Sun this week.
Walden on Tuesday said that negotiations which could avert the foreclosure were under way with potential buyers for the project, including NeuBuilt Homes of Tacoma. Rick Neumann of NeuBuilt was out of town and unavailable for comment. On Friday, however, Neumann said that while he at one time had a conversation with Walden about the possibility of purchasing Woods View, he had never made a commitment to do so.
Neumann, whose company was set to build homes on the property, said he would not consider such a purchase unless certain problems, including the septic issue, were worked out. He has “moved on” to other projects, he said.

PO’s Plans to Become an Urban Center Would be Selling “Your Political Soul to the Devil,” KAPO REP Says

Funding for which the city would become eligible come with to many “strings,” critics say.
By Chris Henry
Members of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners and other community members on Tuesday raised a chorus of warning against a proposal by the City of Port Orchard to seek designation as an Urban Growth Center through the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Port Orchard would seek the designation as part of its yet-to-be-approved comprehensive plan update, set to come before the council Dec. 22.
Becoming an urban growth center would entitle the city to a first crack at state and federal funding for transportation and infrastructure overseen by the PSRC, said Development Director James Weaver at a public hearing on the comp plan update. The change in status would put Port Orchard in a league with Bremerton and Silverdale when it comes to accessing certain transportation funds, he said.
The city could still apply for other federal and state funds and grants even if it does not become an urban growth center. The process is highly competitive and would take about three years, Weaver said. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council would have to give its blessing before the matter would move on to the PSRC.
Port Orchard is eligible to apply for the designation since its population grew to more than 10,000 in 2009. Annexations, including the McCormick Woods development, raised the population from 8,420 to 10,836.
As part of its comp plan update, the city shows future plans to develop its downtown area as a transportation hub. Key to this is construction of a parking garage and retail complex known as the Port Orchard Town Center Revitalization Project . The estimated cost of the project is $36.6 million.
The city will likely proceed with the transportation hub plan, even if it doesn’t become an urban growth center, but funding administered through the PSRC represents a significant source of money for this and other capital projects on Port Orchard’s horizon.
But those who testified about the proposal said seeking the title of urban growth center would make the city beholden to the PSRC, a regional body made up of representatives from a four-county area, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Critics cited goals of the PSRC’s Vision 2040 as having the potential to dictate quality of life in South Kitsap.
“Make no mistake,” said KAPO’s Executive Director Vivian Henderson. “Once you get tangled up in the strings attached to PSRC grants, you have sold your political soul to the devil.”
“I would suggest you resist this siren song and, instead, consider helping Kitsap leave the PSRC in 2012,” said Silverdale resident and KAPO member Bob Benze.
“To me the PSRC is trying to change what our community is all about,” said Port Orchard resident Gerry Harmon. “If you don’t jump through their hoops, you’re not going to get the money. Everything we do will be to get those funds. Those funds will only come when we are running through those hoops.”
Mayor Lary Coppola asked Weaver to clarify requirements of being an urban growth center. Weaver said, as far as Port Orchard’s comp plan is concerned, the PSRC would be able to comment on it, as they have in the past. But the designation would give the PSRC no additional authority to dictate details of comp plan regulations.
After the meeting, Coppola, who has written blog posts critical of Vision 2040, said, “I heard all the people who spoke about it (the proposal) loud and clear last night, and I understand their fear, but this is a council decision. This is not my decision, and I think there’s pros and cons on both sides of it.”

Three-Story Project in Manchester Comes Before Hearing Examiner

County development staff have withdrawn their support of the Spruce House project.
By Chris Henry
Manchester residents had their say Thursday on a three-story development project some claim is out of scale and character with the town. Critics of the project say plans to accommodate stormwater are inadequate and pose a danger of flooding from site run-off.
Spruce House, a 54,777 square-foot residential-retail complex, was the subject of a public hearing at the county administration building. The complex is proposed on a .53 acre site at the corner of Colchester Drive and Spruce Street in downtown Manchester.
Spruce House is one of four projects allowed at three stories before a revision of the Manchester Community Plan in 2007 limited building height in the downtown area to two stories. The Anchors at Manchester is the only one of the four that has been built.
Plans by Gig Harbor developer John Park of BJP LLC call for 11 condominium units on two stories above 7,455 square feet of retail-office space and 19 parking spaces on the ground floor. There’s also a 40-space underground parking garage.
Written testimony the county received in an earlier phase of permitting showed a number of residents displeased with the size and appearance of the building. An Oct. 12 report from the county’s Department of Community Development says Park has made adjustments to the design in response. But the report raises issues with stormwater treatment and landscaping in its recommendation against approval of the permit.
The DCD had earlier recommended approval of Park’s application, said Senior Planner Dennis Oost, but staff withdrew their support in November, 2008, when neighbors of the proposed project complained drainage from the site would be directed at their properties.
DCD contends Park’s current plans don’t meet the county’s requirement that 15 percent of the project area be covered in landscaping. And a neighbor, whose garage encroaches on the site said the design would block his access, Oost said.
Resident Carrilu Thompson testified that flooding is a problem in the town, which is at the bottom of a hillside.
Planning consultant William Palmer said his client has proposed several stormwater alternatives. The preferred design would be to collect run-off and direct it via underground pipes to a county-maintained manhole on Spruce Street. From there stormwater enters a pipe with direct discharge to Puget Sound.
The pipe passes through private property, and the owner will not give permission for its use, Palmer said. He argues that since the county once owned the property is has a historic right to use the pipe and so could grant Park permission to use it.
Project engineer Nels Rosendahl said the pipe would have enough capacity to handle the added run-off from the site, even in the event of a “hundred year storm.” But Douglas Frick, the county’s manager of development engineering, said his department has not yet verified the capacity of the pipe. Nor have possible problems created by additional flow at the pipe’s outfall been addressed, Frick said.
Palmer listed several other alternative plans, one of which would direct stormwater from the site to a nearby creek. Another alternative required Park to get permission from seven other property owners, which proved prohibitive, Palmer said.
On the issue of landscaping, Palmer argued the project more than satisfies the county’s 15 percent requirement. By including plantings on the building itself, the total landscaped area is 4,083 feet or about 17.7 percent of the total site area, he said.
The report submitted by Oost states landscaping on buildings should not be counted in the total. But Palmer said precent for doing so was set by the hearing examiner’s approval of another three-story project in Manchester. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners overturned approval of Colchester Commons, but Park challenged that decision and prevailed on April 7 in Kitsap County Superior Court.
As for the easement issue, Park and his representatives are negotiating with the neighbor, who claims access to the site through historical use. They hope to come to a resolution, Palmer said. In the meantime, Park has filed suit to gain access. The neighbor has filed a counter suit.
The fourth three-story project, Manchester Place, at the corner of Spring and Main Street, is owned by Frank Tweten of Gig Harbor. He has until Oct. 6, 2011 to move forward before a preliminary permit on the project expires.

Heads Up Manchester: Hearing Set for Oct. 22 on Three-Story Project

Correction: The date of the is meeting was incorrectly listed. It is next Thursday, Oct. 22.

The Kitsap County Hearing Examiner will hold a public hearing on a conditional use permit application submitted by Tri Hutch for the proposed Spruce House project in Manchester. The hearing will be at 10 a.m. Thursday Oct. 22 in the Port Blakely Room of the county administration building, 619 Division St., Port Orchard.
The owners seek to build a three-story, retail-residential structure within the Manchester Village Commercial Zone. Spruce House is one of four three-story projects approved by Kitsap County before revision of the Manchester Community Plan in 2007. Previously, county code allowed buildings up to 35 feet or three stories in downtown Manchester. Although the revised plan limits buildings in the downtown core to 28 feet or two stories, the four projects were allowed at 35 feet.
Spruce House includes below ground parking, with 7,455 square feet of retail and office space on the ground floor, and two stories above consisting of nine condominiums. The total square footage is 54,777. The .53-acre site is located at the corner of Colchester Drive and Spruce Street.

PO Council to Revisit EDAW, Kasprisin Plans

Development criteria for library site pitched at recent work study meeting.
By Chris Henry
As part of its planning for the future of Port Orchard’s Library, the City of Port Orchard will revisit two earlier development plans, the EDAW economic development plan of 2004 and the Kasprisin waterfront redevelopment plan of 1983.
The library isn’t going anywhere soon, but someday it could move to a proposed development on Prospect Street slated for a parking garage, retail shops and community complex. When and if that happens, the City of Port Orchard may surplus the current library property or enter into a public/private partnership to redevelop the library site.
Two downtown business owners, Amy Igloi-Matsuno and Mallory Jackson, have expressed interest in the site. Igloi-Matsuno has said she is open to a public-private partnership. Jackson is not.
The city’s public property committee has made a list of criteria prospective developers would have to meet to ensure that any use of the site is favorable to the city as a whole. The city council reviewed the list at a Sept. 15 work study meeting, and they agreed to reconsider aspects of the two development plans as part of their planning for the city’s future.
Port Orchard in 1983 commissioned a waterfront revitalization plan by architect and urban planner Ronald J. Kasprisin. In 2004, the city competed a grant funded economic development study by the EDAW urban planning group of Seattle. The council agreed elements of both plans could be integrated into an updated vision for the city, as they address the library site issue.
Topping the list of development criteria is a requirement to provide for relocation of the library. If a permanent site were not immediately available, any proposal would have to provide a leased site for at least five years at no additional cost to the library.
Beyond that, criteria address the council’s concern for the qualifications and financial solvency of the development team. Minutes of the Aug. 13 public property committee, at which the criteria were discussed, show Councilman Fred Olin “did not want to see the building go to someone who would sit on it and not develop the property.” Other members of the committee agreed.
Prospective developers would have to show and adhere to a timeline for completion of the project, as well as provide the city up front with a financial feasibility plan. Any plan would have to show “serious” consideration of site constraints, including the likelihood that parking would have to be provided off-site.
Kitsap Transit, whose Port Orchard office is now within the library building, would also need to be accommodated. The city would have to obtain a fair market price for the parcel, which is currently valued at nearly $395,000.
City council members at the work study discussed the possibility of expanding the proposed development criteria to all of downtown. They agreed to review the Kasprisin and EDAW plans and revisit the issue at their work study meeting in October.

Citizen Complains of Neighborhood’s Growing Pains

On Monday, I covered a closed record public hearing before the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on the Ridgline development near Lake Emelia in South Kitsap. The proposed project, calling for 102 single family lots on 18.28 acres, is owned by local development investor and Planning Commission member Fred Depee .

The appellants, led by Lake Emelia residents Bill Simmons and Peter Boorman, have been fighting the proposal for two years, charging that storm water from the property would damage Lake Emelia and that the density would disturb wildlife and spoil the ambiance of the neighborhood.

The property, which Depee bought in 1994, was originally zoned urban reserve under the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, earmarked by the county for possible future up-zoning. During the 2006 comp plan revision, the zoning was changed to urban low residential, which allows four to nine units per acre. Ridgeline’s proposed density is 5.6 units per acre.

Some of the neighbors are chaffing at their lack of awareness of the potential for future development that existed in the 1990s under the urban reserve designation. At least one of them knew of it. The Kitsap County hearing examiner’s records show a letter to the county from resident Peter Boorman dated in 1996. But others, including Chris Lemke, say they weren’t aware that a zoning change was proposed for the area, nor its potential to change the look and feel of the neighborhood.

Lemke , who wrote a letter to the Kitsap Sun editor, complained at Monday’s meeting that the county should be more direct in alerting residents of areas where the urban growth area boundary could be extended. The county publishes notice of public hearings, on comp plan changes, and according to reporter Chris Dunagan, there was considerable press coverage of the 2006 Kitsap County Comp Plan update, as well as a page on the county’s Web site. But Lemke said, “When they extended the UGAs , I never got any notice of it. … Everything is on the side of the contractor right now.”

Depee has said his business depends on his ability to anticipate growth and invest in properties years, even decades before he can expect to a see a return.

In an earlier story, he said, “I can understand their concerns. Everyone fights growth. They’re afraid their rural living is being affected. But it’s not me who put the zoning in.

“I am a third-generation Kitsap County resident. If I had my choice, all of Kitsap would look and be like it was in the ’60s and ’70s when I was growing up. The powers to be, and time, have dictated the change to what it is and I make a living on these changes.”

Under the state’s Growth Management Act, growth is to be concentrated rather than sprawling. But changes in urban growth areas don’t happen without the population increase to support the expansion of the urban growth area, according to Dunagan. The comp plan is updated every 10 years, using updated state population estimates. Where UGA boundaries go is up to local government entities working through the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Potential growth is allocated according to how much each city is willing/able to handle. UGA boundaries are determined according to a list of criteria, such as where urban services are or will become available.

Lemke, in his testimony before the commissioners, said the county should go the extra mile to inform residents of impending zoning changes by including notice in annual property tax statements. What do you think?

SKIA Annexation Part One

Over at the Caucus blog we’ve got a little ditty about SKIA anexation. You might not be surprised to hear that I’m seeing slightly different characterizations from Port Orchard and Bremerton. The official word from the board, for now, is the annexation of the northern property was accepted as submitted. A written decision will be issued later this month.