City, county backs condo project

The Bremerton City Council joined the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners in its support to help finance the Harborside Condominiums in downtown Bremerton.

After several weeks of discussion, the Council voted unanimously to co-sign a $2 million loan to help the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority secure funding for the project.

“The condos are a piece of the puzzle in the downtown Bremerton revitalization,” said Councilman Will Maupin.

The condos will place people in downtown and will help make Bremerton a 24-hour city, Maupin said.

“Personally, I would like to see the city committing all it can to to the project,” he said.

However, the city reduced its earlier commitment to a $4 million loan to the $2 million based on advice from its financial services department, he said.

“This is a conservative approach on the part of the city,” Maupin said.

Earlier in the week, the Kitsap County Commissioners agreed to co-sign a $22 million loan to help finance the condos.

The co-signed amount represents a little more than 50 percent of the completed project.

“With this action, the county has agreed to share the risk,” said Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority head Norm McLoughlin.

KCCHA spokeswoman Sara Lee said the project was unlike any undertaking in the history of Bremerton, or for that matter any part of the United States. “It’s an unusual site,” Lee said. “Nothing like this has ever been done in the state of Washington. It offers a prime water view from what is now a parking lot. To enjoy that view now you have to sit in your car.”

The site for the new condos is now a parking lot. Furthermore, it has a prime waterfront view, something that can cost millions in other parts of the region.

Portland-based Sienna Architects designed the condos using similar high-end buildings in Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle as a template. Each unit will have a view.

The condos represent the third stage of a $500 million public/private effort dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Bremerton. With this strategy, public investments pave the way for private enterprise, creating a “safe” place for new businesses to set up shop.

Groundbreaking for the condos is scheduled for May, with an estimated completion date of Autumn 2006. Of the 78 projected units, 39 people have already placed reservations,” which require a deposit of up to $10,000.

The units will hold an attraction for Seattle residents, and will offer them a more pleasant commute to downtown than many parts of the region. However, Lee said most of the people who have placed reservations so far are from the west side of the Sound.

The units will range in price from about $375,000 to $1.2 million. They will represent the state of the art with regard to modern luxury living, and will be affordable only to those in upper income brackets. Still, they will not displace any citizens and will not substantially change the overall character of Bremerton.

While much of downtown Bremerton is at the poverty level, the revitalization is not meant to wipe out these areas and start from scratch.

“A healthy community is a diverse community,” Lee said. “Bremerton will never look like Kirkland, because we have a chance to incorporate the diverse elements at the planning stage.”

With housing, commerce and a transportation hub, Lee said Bremerton has the opportunity to become a vital 24-hour city.

— Reporter Charles Melton contributed to this story.

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