Port of Poulsbo to demolish armory, install paid parking

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo plans to demolish the North Kitsap Armory building on Jensen Way to make room for a paid parking lot, said Port Commissioner Arnold Bockus.

The building was shuttered by the state in 2009 and later purchased by the Port of Poulsbo for $880,000.

The port is obtaining permits from the City of Poulsbo to raze the building and regrade the land, which it plans to pave and stripe in the next few months, weather permitting. Bockus estimated the site could hold 50 to 60 parking spaces and hopes the lot will be open by the start of 2011.

Port commissioners decided to demolish the building after a fruitless year of searching for tenants, Bockus said.

"There wasn't any interest in renting the thing as it is. We decided well, we're going to turn it around somehow," he said. "One of the things that is needed by the port and by the city is parking, so we decided to go into a parking lot."

Commissioners have not set the cost of parking in the lot, and have yet to discuss if there will be some spots designated for boaters, Bockus said. He expects downtown merchants, employees and patrons will use the lot as well.

Bockus said plans are being drawn for the project and the building is being tested for asbestos, which was commonly used in military construction.

The demolition was estimated at about $85,000, not including removal of the concrete floor, according to minutes from a Sept. 16 port commission meeting. Core samples will first have to be taken to find out the depth of the floor.

The armory was one of seven closed by the state in 2009 as a cost-saving measure. At the time, then-Mayor Kathryn Quade said the city was pressing Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington National Guard Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg and local lawmakers for help in keeping the building open for the community.

Poulsbo's American Legion Post ran a veteran services office out of the building for nearly a decade. After determining the post could not afford rent in the armory, the veteran service office briefly relocated to the basement of city hall, but closed altogether last month after finding no permanent home.

The Poulsbo Farmers Market hoped to rent the space to stay open year round, and bazaars and quilt shows also showed interest in renting, according to the Sept. 16 minutes.

The 3,600-square-foot building, leased at $1.25 per square foot per month, would have needed to be rented out at least two days a month to cover basic utilities, port accountant Carol Tripp said at the meeting.

The Poulsbo Noon Lions Club held its Viking Fest pancake breakfast at the armory for nearly four decades, said club president Ryan Smart. The club is searching for a new location for the breakfast, which raised money for student scholarships.

"There's not very many places to do things like that in downtown Poulsbo," Smart said. "We're sad to see it go."

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