Cheers demolition leads to PO waterfront apartments

The long and at times convoluted history of the old Lighthouse Restaurant turned Cheers Bar and Grill lives on in the minds of many Port Orchard residents, years after it closed and was slated for redevelopment.

As a community member himself, CEO Robert Baglio of The BJC Group reflected on the time when he was a regular visitor of the establishment. “I remember coming down here, having their Sunday brunch with the kids and the family. So there’s a lot of sentimental thoughts that go along with it,” he said in front of the gated-off building.

Nowadays, the property has become an eyesore, overgrown with weeds and trees and littered with shattered seashells and trash. The sign announcing the project application from 2019 remains, faded and unrecognizable, and a metal ladder sticks out from the roof.

The building has become a continuous hub for homelessness and criminal activity. Just in a week’s time frame, Baglio said he had seen evidence of multiple break-ins, and multiple calls had been made to remove tents and camping individuals.

“Properties like this tend to attract this kind of activity,” he added.

It’s been years of waiting and checking off the boxes, but Baglio is thrilled to finally begin the onsite demolition and construction of a new mixed-use building with 39 residential apartments, leaving the old restaurants’ histories behind and focusing on the betterment of downtown Port Orchard.

Demolition was set to be done July 31, with construction slated to follow in August for the four-story building, labeled in designs as Bay Street Apartments. The first story is described as a concrete podium to accommodate parking followed by three residential stories consisting of 25 single-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and 2 three-bedroom units. Additionally, a rooftop deck looking over Sinclair Inlet and Puget Sound is planned.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it luxury,” Baglio said, “but they are going to be very nice apartments.”

While the change as Baglio put it is somewhat sentimental, moving the project forward is a major accomplishment given the many delays offered by COVID, interest rate increases and more.

“There hasn’t been a change to the downtown waterfront really in Port Orchard for a while,” he said. “This is a high-profile building, so we’re excited about it. It’s an excellent location, and like I said, it’s great to see something change in Port Orchard.”

It’s a new beginning for the residential market, and yet, the end of any resemblance of what was. The origins of the restaurant chapters of the property go back to 1984 when the original Lighthouse restaurant was opened by Del and Gloria Twenten. Ownership continued to vary over its three-plus decade history, most recently being reopened in 2014 by former Seattle police officer Eric Smith and later maintained in ownership by Brookes Konig.

The property was acquired in 2016 by Ali Kashi, president of Cheers Bar and Grill. The plans to redevelop the property into a multi-residential date followed in October of 2019.