Viking Avenue's future is subject of Oct. 17 community meeting

POULSBO — The City of Poulsbo will host a West Poulsbo (Viking Avenue) Community Meeting on Oct. 17, 5:30 p.m., in the Poulsbo City Hall Council Chambers.

Mayor Becky Erickson said all business owners and concerned residents from the Viking Avenue area are invited to attend. The topic of conversation will be “What can the City of Poulsbo do to help support your businesses along Viking Avenue?”

For more information, call Erickson at 394-9800.

Viking Avenue's Auto Row era ended in September with the closure of Courtesy Ford. Courtesy owner John Hern — who lured Regal Cinemas and Washington Tractor, a John Deere dealer, to the thoroughfare — has said Viking Avenue is “an excellent place for a grocery/drug store or a box store of some type … The infrastructure is already here.”

Street improvements have been completed to the city limits. All necessary infrastructure is installed, such as curbs, gutters, sidewalks, street lighting, and utilities.

Although Viking Avenue was long known as auto row, there are other established businesses on the thoroughfare: Ag-related services, a bank, brewery, children’s clothing store, grocery, home services, movie theater and restaurants. Viking Avenue is an alternative route to Silverdale and beyond; today, the thoroughfare accommodates an average of 12,724 vehicles a day, but that number was once 22,000. In 2007, during the auto row era, the city collected $633,091 as its share of sales tax revenue generated by Viking Avenue businesses. That number has decreased by more than half.

Erickson said in an earlier interview that she wants to engage businesses there about the thoroughfare’s future and how the city can help.

What services are missing in Poulsbo that can be accommodated on Viking Avenue? Some city officials would like to see Viking Avenue’s vacant commercial space redeveloped with village-like mixed uses, with street-level stores and cafes and upper-level apartments and homes. Erickson would like to see an electric- or hybrid dealership locate here.

Erickson likes the idea of a business improvement area to market Viking Avenue. “The Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association formed when Poulsbo Village was built, and that was a very successful thing for them to do,” she said. Another idea: A fund which can make zero-interest loans to businesses to make visual improvements to their businesses and properties.

Paula Strid, co-president of the Poulsbo Farmers Market, would like to relocate the market to Viking Avenue and expand to year-round, with an entertainment area, demonstration garden and other amenities.

"Poulsbo Farmers Market was the fastest-growing market in the state last year," she wrote in a letter to the Herald. "It continues to grow this year and will be the first farmers market on the peninsula to extend its season all the way through to Dec. 17 so even Christmas dinner can be made up of local foods. And, Poulsbo Farmers Market is looking for a permanent home to serve locals and tourists year round. With the new tractor store on Viking, a new, large Farmers Market would be a perfect anchor to an agricultural based shopping community. Kitsap has rural roots and without keeping and encouraging those local farms there is no local food."


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