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Downtown flea market hits skids

After receiving a list of requirements from the city attorney he describes as impossible to fulfill, Mike Momany has abandoned his dream of creating Flea by the Sea in downtown Bremerton — a five story clothing, produce, antiques and electronics market.

Momany had intended to turn a city of Bremerton parking garage on 4th and Washington into a business wonderland.

Instead, Momany has secured a deal for the West Bay Center in Port Orchard to open his business.

The Flea Market was touted by Momany as a tourism fire-starter and could have brought as many as 1000 residents into downtown Bremerton on Sundays.

City attorney Roger Lubovich authored a letter to Momany Sept. 18 that contained a list of lighting, ventilation and sanitation upgrades that Momany estimates would have cost him $250,000.

Also, Momany contends a three-year lease is necessary for attracting anchor vendors, but city council members and city administrators were unwilling to sign off, citing unforeseen parking demand, and too many safety concerns.

Lubovich said he is “absolutely” not opposed to a public market in Bremerton, but he says the 30-year-old garage would take too much work to transform.

He suggested a location on Fourth Street that is retrofitted to fit such a business in his letter.

However, Momany considers that a non-option. Because it is open air, he would only operate when the weather permits.

Currently, Momany has no plans to continue working in partnership with the city, and is considering privately-owned locations in the Sinclair Plaza, or at the Safelight Auto Glass building on Sixth Street, or possibly the old Bremer Department store space, for his new project called Barter Barn.

It would be similar to the Flea by the Sea, but without the fresh produce.

Momany started the Main Street Outdoor Cinema and secured a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to renovate the downtown library.

“We think it is very cool” to have a public market in downtown Bremerton, said Lubovich, but he agreed Momany faces what many potential small business owners may face in the downtown sector — large retrofitting costs.

“This is an issue we are going to have to eventually address,” said Lubovich.

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