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First Olhava retail space in city review

POULSBO — Actions spoke louder than words for First Western Development last week as it filed for a pre-application conference for what will likely be the first major retailer in the Olhava development.

Although it is unclear at this point what retailer might fill the proposed 150,000-square-foot space, all signs point to an up-coming announcement. Mark Zenger of Olhava Associates said the application is a sort of test balloon from a potential tenant, who wanted to see how smoothly the Poulsbo permitting process was before inking a deal with the developer. For the time being, the company has asked that its name not be announced.

“But hopefully in the next 45 to 60 days, if things go well, we’ll be ready to make an announcement,” Zenger said, adding that the retailer is one that is “not uncommon” for this area.

If approved, the proposed 19.8-acre development will become the first piece in the 216-acre Olhava development.

Olhava includes the 20-acre Olympic College Poulsbo branch campus and mixed-use retail, commercial and residential areas. Zenger said if the deal goes through, it could mean other retailers aren’t far behind.

“It would be our first anchor tenant,” Zenger explained. “Typically what you try to do is find that first big anchor tenant and then tenants who like to locate around them typically come, too.”

He added that Olhava Associates need to have roads and utilities in place by this summer and getting a better view of future site tenants will likely help that process along.

The site plan review and pre-application conference request, filed with the City of Poulsbo Jan. 8, is for a three-phased construction project, beginning with a 150,000-square-foot space. It would be located along the proposed A Street, which will connect to the site from Finn Hill and will border the Olhava site along State Route 3. The Olhava Master Plan calls for transit stops to be situated directly in front of the development.

The plan proposes a June start date for construction on the primary space, which will include commercial retail space, a quick lube and oil change station, outdoor retail space and about 747 parking stalls. Zenger said if construction goes forward as planned, the retailer could be ready to open its doors to the public by the spring of 2004.

Future construction includes a gas service station (proposed March 2004); an additional 68,600-square-feet of retail space; and an extra 334 parking stalls (proposed between 2005 and 2010).

The application further states that First Western expects the unnamed retailer to include 150 jobs, while the second phase of construction will add about 100 more jobs.

The plan will be viewed by members of the city’s engineering, public works, planning, finance, police and fire departments, Poulsbo Senior Planner Barry Berezowsky said of the process. A pre-application conference will be scheduled for the city to acquaint itself with the application, and also to ensure it is consistent with city codes, building standards and the Olhava Master Plan.

Once First Western has addressed departmental concerns, it will be able to apply for a site plan review.

Barring any appeals the retailer plan is subject to approval or disapproval from Planning Director Glenn Gross because the Olhava Master Plan has already undergone extensive public comment, explained Berezowsky. The public will have an opportunity to comment to the planning department during the future notice of application and also after a SEPA determination.

Only in the case of an appeal will the matter be heard before the city council.

Berezowsky said that the site plan process can take between 45 and 60 days. He added that while the company has not divulged the name of the retailer to occupy the space, First Western may have to disclose that information soon in order for the city to more accurately asses impact fees.

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