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Proposed Sportsplex flexed out of its planned location

POULSBO — Though Bainbridge Island developer Doug Nelson still has plans to clear and build on a piece of land just west of State Route 3 near Snider Park, the primary tenants won’t be manning a new state-of-the-art sports facility.

The proposed “Kitsap All Sports Complex,” which would have included various recreational businesses, has been axed altogether. Nelson, owner of Landmark Properties, LLC, now plans to build structures fit for “light industrial” use on the 5.4 acre lot.

The original complex was set to include Bremerton-based Studio Kicks Martial Arts Academy and Zero Gravity Dance Studio, which has relocated in the Agate Pass Business Park near Suquamish, and other tenants inside a 40,000-square-foot building. The other and largest single project on the lot was the “Zone Sportsplex,” which would have included two full size indoor sports fields and up to a dozen batting cages in about 36,000 square feet of space. Despite numerous delays, both were set to open in August.

During development earlier in the year, however, Nelson, was working with Sportsplex general manager and Poulsbo resident Ted Thetford, but parted ways following the price escalation of various construction necessities such as steel, gas and labor costs.

As the prices went up, the tenants, including Thetford’s Sportsplex, went out.

“It comes down to the dollar,” Nelson said. “They couldn’t afford to pay the rents. I would’ve had to have subsidized the rents and I made a business decision not to do that.”

Though the Sportsplex won’t be built at its originally proposed location, Thetford said he is still talking with several investors to build on an undisclosed piece of land near the Olhava development, west of Poulsbo. He is planning a more long-term opening at the end of 2006, to allow plenty of time for planning, permitting and construction, and any roadblocks that may stall the project temporarily.

He said he does regret that the original agreement fell apart.

“It came down to economics,” Thetford said. “You added it all up and it became unaffordable for that piece of property.”

However, Thetford admitted that through the lessons learned, he’s confident his vision for a Poulsbo Sportsplex can still come to fruition.

“This time, we’re gonna get smarter and leave ourselves buffer room,” Thetford said of the slated opening.

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