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If you build it, they will live in it

Something big is soon to rise alongside the new government and waterfront conference center. It is another tentacle of Bremerton’s urban core revitalization, otherwise known as the waterfront condominium project.

From his office in the Sinclair Building on Washington Avenue, Gary Tusberg is leading the fight to get 80 of the 200 proposed condos built and ready for move-in by Jan. 1, 2005.

He is the director of urban development for the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, the organization funding the condo construction.

Last Thursday, June 5, he invited about 90 potential condo investors to Bremerton for an informal question and answer meeting.

Only this time, Tusberg was doing the questioning.

“Over the last few months we have been getting calls from people interested in living in the new condos. We decided that we would get everybody together and find out what they’d like to see in a condominium if they were to buy one.”

Representatives from the firm that is drawing structural designs of the new condos, Sienna Architects, as well as Bristol Interior Design company, were on hand for the meeting.

“The response was overwhelming,” Tusberg said. “It was a great opportunity to sit with the people and discuss how this thing should be developed.”

They looked at floor plans, interior amenities, parking, fixtures and layouts.

“There is a great demand from people in Bremerton,” he said. “In addition we have people interested from Seattle and at least one couple from Redmond.”

The biggest challenge now, Tusberg says, is getting the project done as quickly as possible so people can move in.

In the next six months, construction drawings will be finalized for the four proposed six story buildings that will sit on a large waterfront stretch between the Manette Bridge and the conference center.

Tusberg will approach Bremerton’s planning department for site and building permits.

Construction will be open for a public bid, just like the government center was, and will be completed in two phases.

Phase 1 will consist of 80 units. Tusberg is not willing to nail down an average price that the condos will be sold for, but he does say that the price will probably reflect market trends for condominiums and will be established based on overall construction costs.

Currently, a condo in Kitsap County sells for an average of $250 to $300 per square foot, according to Tusberg. He estimates the waterfront condominiums will be between 1000 and 1,500 square feet.

By running the math on market value alone, that could put the waterfront condos at a price of $250,000 or more.

However, Tusberg says it is “very premature,” to begin discussing any sort of potential sale price.

Even though he says there is a large market for condos on the Bremerton waterfront, after the first phase is completed Tusberg will conduct a study just to make sure there are potential condo investors before Phase II is started.

Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority will foot the bill for constructing the condos. No Bremerton property, sales or building and occupation (B/O) tax will be used.

The housing authority will sell the condominiums to individual investors. After that, Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority will hand over management of the condominiums to a company specializing in such operations.

“We are going to make it as affordable as possible,” he said. “If you go to Seattle (the condo price) doubles to $500,000 to 1,000,000.”

Tusberg says the primary goal of the condominium project is to get people into the downtown area.

Until construction begins on the first of next year, Tusberg is leading research on construction materials. He is seeking numerous ways to reduce costs, such as efficient concrete pouring methods.

Depending on how much he saves, the cost of the individual condominiums will proportionally decrease.

Tusberg sent questionaires home with the 90 potential investors at last Thrusday’s meeting to further gather information about what they want in the new condominiums. Within two weeks, he should have a clear summary of the data.

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