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Council to weigh in on conference center

The Bremerton City Council was set to make several critical decisions this week regarding the expansion of the Kitsap Conference Center.

During the council’s business meeting Wednesday, the board was set to vote on an inter-local agreement with the Kitsap Public Facilities District for funding and a lease agreement with Kitsap Transit.

The council was also set to weigh in on contracts with Jones & Roberts, Inc. for construction, a contract with ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas for elevator improvements and a professional services agreement with Rice Fergus Miller for construction administration of the conference center.

The city is looking to expand its 10,000-square-foot conference center to the third floor of the Harborside Building owned by Kitsap Transit. The third floor space, which has sat empty since 2004, would allow for 6,750 more square feet of space for conference activities and visitors. A lease agreement between the city and Kitsap Transit calls for a lease rate of $15 per square foot.

That lease, though, has given at least one member of the city council, Eric Younger, pause.

“I’m not against it … All I’m saying is you’re asking us to approve a 20 year, at least a 10 year agreement, and I need to know this is fair market value and I haven’t seen any evidence of that,” Younger said during a study session last week.

Under the terms of the deal, Kitsap Transit will forgive the first four years of rent and lease payments of $8,500 per month will begin in the fifth year. The ten-year lease has two five-year options.

The city was awarded $400,000 from the Kitsap Public Facilities District for the expansion project this past summer, but city officials are set to go back later this month and ask for an additional $20,000 to help make the project pencil out. In addition, the city will loan itself $500,000 from its Equipment Rental and Revolving Fund.

City staffers say that conservative estimates show that the expanded conference center will bring in an additional $500,000 in revenue every year through larger and longer conferences bringing in more visitors to Bremerton.

The next Kitsap Public Facilities District meeting, in which the city will ask for more money to fund the expansion project, will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, October 28, at the agency’s offices located at 9481 Silverdale Way NW, Suite 265, in Silverdale.

 

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