Pope Resources is hoping to give Port Gamble a shot in the arm by redeveloping the former company town and bringing new commercial space for wineries, breweries and residential real estate.
Jon Rose, president of Olympic Property Group, the real estate subsidiary of Pope Resources addressed the crowd during a Sept. 12 meeting in Port Gamble to discuss the revised master plan. As the first order of business, Rose sought to separate himself from the forest practices arm of OPG’s parent company.
“We don’t know a lot about trees, but we like them,” Rose said. “I’m not going to be chatting about trees tonight, I’m going to be talking about Port Gamble.”
Rose explained that Olympic Property Group has set its sights on reinvigorating the town since 2002.
“From about 2002 to about 2015, our focus in Port Gamble was to reinvigorate the town and the buildings that are here,” Rose said. “Almost all 50 buildings in town have gone under a renovation. We started a wedding and events business, we did that because we wanted to bring people up here, we wanted to put the place back on the map, and we wanted enough people in town so we could start bringing in commercial business.”
Despite considerable commercial growth in the area in recent years, Rose said that Port Gamble continues to cost Pope Resources about $300,000 annually.
“It cannot go on like this, we didn’t expect this was going to take that long, so it’s been a big effort for the company and its shareholders keeping this thing floating,” he said.
The president noted a number of things that OPG hoped to preserve as it develops Port Gamble. Preserving the character of the town, increasing vitality and providing an asset to the community, Rose said, were all key elements the group was seeking to maintain as it moves forward with development.
“We want fun things happening, we want free things to happen for families to come up and enjoy, we have all these events that happen that are part of North Kitsap life now, and we want that to continue in the future,” Rose said. “We want this to continue to be an asset that people are proud of. We’re proud of it, I hope you’re proud that it’s in your community and we want it to be that way as we exit out of here.”
According to Rose, as the group develops and then sells off property, it will no longer maintain its holdings around Port Gamble.
“When we develop Port Gamble, that is our exit out of here,” Rose said. “We will plat lots and everything that we own here today will be sold and we will own nothing else in the town.”
Under the new plan, Port Gamble would also undergo a zoning conversion from industrial use to residential uses which would allow for lighter commercial activity.
“Our idea is to take the town more towards a residential purpose,” Rose said. “This is going to be a residential community with a great downtown and new jobs are going to come in the form of visitor-regulated activities and agricultural tourism.”
Two alternatives are currently outlined in the master plan for the development of the town:Alternative One includes 265 new homes and 28 existing residences, between 30,000 and 50,000 square-feet of new commercial space, hotel, wildlife shelter, full development of the former mill site, trails and shoreline access.
Alternative Two is nearly identical to Alternative 1, but includes 39 fewer new homes, a reduction to the new commercial space and a 16-acre conservation easement at the former mill site.
A draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Port Gamble redevelopment plan was published by the Kitsap County Department of Community Development Sept. 17. A public comment period will remain open until Oct. 18.
Those hoping to provide a comment or review the EIS may do so by visiting kitsapgov.com/dcd/Pages/Port_Gamble_Redevelopment.aspx.