Penney’s building now Harborside Commons

Bellevue developer Ron Sher has big plans for structure.

By CHARLES MELTON

Editor

The adage “Good things come to those wait” was probably never more true in Bremerton than on Nov. 30 when the Bremer Trust celebrated the sale of the old JC Penney’s building to Bellevue-based developer Ron Sher.

Sher is probably best known for his redevelopment of the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, where Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman served as mayor during the 1980s, so at least in some people’s minds it was only a matter of time before Sher landed in Bremerton.

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this project for 30 years,” Sher said.

Although the wait for deciding what to do with the building hasn’t been quite 30 years, Bremer trustee Betty Sheldon said it took a long time for the trust to find the right person to redevelop the building.

“We are so glad he is the person who is going to see the redevelopment of the JC Penney’s building,” Sheldon said.

The sale of the building represents an important real estate transaction for the continued redevelopment of downtown and Sher could see the possibilities for the historic structure, Sheldon said.

“Not too many things have energized me as much as getting into this project,” Sher said. “We’re here and we’re excited.”

The project has the potential to a cornerstone for transportation-based development because of its proximity to the Bremerton ferry terminal, which is something Sher said he sees as becoming increasingly important in the future.

“I’m going to do the best I can to guarantee what I make is going to be an asset to the community,” he said.

If the project is successful, then Sher said he believes similar type developments will begin to take shape on the other side of the Sound.

Bozeman, who has known Sher for several years, simply called Sher “one of the best developers in the country.”

While the Harborside Commons will be a mix of retail, restaurants and residential and those plans should be finalized in about a year, Sher said, “You can still call it the old JC Penney’s building if you want to.”

However, the old JC Penney’s building is not Sher’s first real estate acquisition in downtown Bremerton as he purchased what is known as the 245 Building on Fourth Street, which sits next to the old city hall building.

“It’s a wonderful building and it has a lot of potential,” he said. “It gives us a face in Bremerton.”

Currently, numerous improvements are being made to the building including a new roof, and office space is still available for prospective tenants.

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