POULSBO — Throughout this month, the final three city hall proposals will be under the microscope as the Poulsbo City Council prepares to make its final decision on the much-scrutinized project.
The public will have an opportunity to listen to advocates of each proposal at 6:30 p.m. June 25 in the city council chambers when the three finalists make their cases to the council.
The idea has been studied since the early 1990s and two previously planned locations haven’t panned out due to either site constraints or strong public opposition.
Now, more than eight months after voters advised city officials to keep city hall in downtown during the November 2006 election, the list of potential sites is down to three.
City consultant Ken Olsen from the Maritime Trust ranked the proposal from the Pioneer Property Group as his No. 1 choice with the proposals from the King Olav Development, LLC and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority as Nos. 2 and 3.
However, Olsen said at the May 24 city long range planning committee that the latter two could easily be reversed in their respective rankings.
Of the three, Pioneer Property Group’s was the most complete proposal in terms of the site development and financing components, he said.
“It gives the city a couple of options for that development,” Olsen said.
The proposal also included opportunities for local involvement, which is an important factor as well.
Here is a summary of the proposals, which the long range planning committee ranked in concurrence with Olsen’s recommendation:
Pioneer Property Group
Even though Pioneer Property Group is based out of Seattle, it is backed by four Kitsap County firms to provide everything from landscape design to a local architecture perspective, actual construction and engineering work.
Among the quartet are Wayne LaMont of LaMont Design, Inc., who aided in the downtown city hall movement, Kingston’s Larson Casteel Company, Bainbridge Island-based MJR Constructors and longtime Poulsbo engineering firm A.D.A. Engineers.
At the core of the group’s proposal is placing the new 30,000-square-foot city hall building on the Front Street side of the King Olav parking lot. The existing city hall would then become a mixed use building with residential and retail spaces; a museum would also be worked into the site.
The plan includes a two-level parking garage with a total of 174 spaces, which is about 54 more than currently exist in the King Olav lot.
A town park would connect city hall to the mixed-use building and the museum as part of the three-phased construction effort.
When it comes to actual dollars for the project, the city hall building is estimated at $9.3 million, the parking garage at $7 million and the mixed-use building at $11.7 million for a total cost of $28 million.
In ranking the King Olav Development, LLC proposal ahead of the KCCHA proposal, Olsen said it was “heavy on financing, but short on vision.”
The financial plan and numbers appeared solid, but the actual building design and redevelopment of downtown aspect were lacking, he said.
King Olav Development is a partnership between the Mentor Company, Drury Construction and Lewis Architecture. The Mentors have the property, Drury Construction has the building know-how and Lewis Architecture offers the design skill.
The partnership has proposed to build city hall, featuring 30,000 square feet of office space and 7,000 square feet of retail area, on the Nilsen’s Appliance Center site. The cost of the building is estimated at $13.7 million.
There would be 70 to 80 parking stalls with the new building and an additional 180-190 stalls on the existing city hall site.
Even though the city hall building is the only detailed proposal submitted by the partnership, its submission also mentions the idea of a two-story parking garage on the existing city hall site and relocating the police station to 10th Avenue to make room for another parking garage on that site.
A notable correlation between the King Olav proposal and the KCCHA proposal is that the development company states, “The Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority is interested in taking on this phase of the project (hotel and convention center on the existing city hall site) regardless whether their proposed site is selected as the future location for City Hall.”
Olsen said he didn’t see any private funding in the project and added that it was largely dependent on legislative action.
The location of city hall in the proposal was also outside of what Olsen said he considers the city’s downtown core.
The KCCHA is no stranger to Little Norway with numerous projects scattered throughout the city including the Austurbruin neighborhood near the North Kitsap High School and the Community Recreation Center building.
While those projects are notable in themselves, the housing authority has displayed its prowess in economic redevelopment with government catalysts in Bremerton, and its proposal for Poulsbo features many of those same elements.
Instead of building on the existing city hall site, the KCCHA’s plan is build at the current community center site on the north end of Front Street.
Connected to city hall would be a 20,000-square-foot community center, which would house the city’s parks and recreation department, Kitsap Mental Health Services and the Kitsap Health District.
A total of 130 parking spaces are part of the structure with 100 underground spots and 30 above ground.
But the group didn’t stop with merely a municipal campus building, it also laid out designs for a 10,000-square-foot museum, a 10,000-square-foot conference center and a 60-75 room boutique hotel.
The conference center and museum would be on the existing city hall site and part of the King Olav parking lot, while the hotel is expected to sit on the Nilsen’s Appliance Center building, which is owned by the Mentor family.
Between the three structures, a total of 310 parking spaces is proposed in bi-level garages.
The estimated cost for the city hall building is $9.3 million, city Planning Director Barry Berezowsky told the committee on May 24.