Old City Hall could become hotel

Hotel Concepts, the owner of the Hampton Inn and Suites downtown, is seeking to purchase the old City Hall building on Fourth Street, the Bremerton City Council learned Wednesday night.

The council also agreed to pursue locating a new municipal courts building on Puget Sound Energy-owned land near the new Fire Station No. 1.

Gary Sexton, the city’s economic development director, presented the sale and purchase agreement and change of direction for the courts during a pre-council study session.

The sale of the old City Hall building for $930,000 is contingent on the council’s approval of the building site plan he said.

That vote should come in the next four months with a potential closing date of Jan. 31, 2007.

This latest buyer is the third to show serious interest in the property. Under this newest proposal, the site could become an extended-stay type of hotel aimed at visiting shipyard workers. The rooms would feature kitchenettes and amenities not found at the neighboring Hampton Inn and Suites Sexton said.

The deal is also hinged on the city’s relocation of utilities in the alley near the property. Sexton estimated it would cost about $200,000. Original estimates had been around $3 million he told the council.

The long-awaited sale of old City Hall would begin a shuffle of sorts with the building’s current occupants relocating. The Bremerton Police Department will be housed in the Kitsap Credit Union on Burwell Street, which the bank will vacate this summer when its new headquarters at Second and Washington is finished.

The Bremerton Municipal Courts could relocate to a new building, rather than the vacant former CenCom building at 17th Street and Warren Avenue.

One of the events that prompted Sexton to change his focus to the PSE site at the southeast corner of Tenth and Park was Harrison Medical Center officials’ interest in buying the CenCom building from the city. They have since backed away from the purchase.

“It seem very clear this council would prefer not to go to CenCom and would prefer the PSE site,” Sexton said.

Councilman Mike Shepherd said the committee that studied the court location options “looked at virtually every existing available and some unavailable building in the downtown core,” he said.

“In the long run the city will be better served by new construction rather than a remodel,” Shepherd added.

Sexton estimated new construction costs to be about $300,000 more than the CenCom remodel. In addition land costs were estimated at about $250,000.

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