City of Poulsbo studying old city hall's value

POULSBO — The City of Poulsbo will appraise the old City Hall property to get a better sense of how it can be developed in the future.

The City Council and mayor have been interested in a hotel being developed on the site, at 19050 Jensen Way. The city hired a consulting firm to study the site for a potential hotel last year, and came back with "a very positive response.” Mayor Becky Erickson said in a previous interview the firm surveyed 30 Kitsap businesses, analyzed pricing structures and would-be customers.

Poulsbo hasn't had a hotel downtown since the 1950s.

In September, the City Council approved a three-month option agreement with Lorig and Associates to study the property and search for developers. The exclusive agreement ended in January, but Lorig staff is still looking at the property's potential.

Erickson said soon city staff will internally analyze the property for its value, and if necessary hire an outside appraiser.

The property is 1.8 acres on Front Street and Jensen Way, including King Olaf parking lot. The former City Hall building is 16,000 square feet. Under current zoning regulations, the new project could be up to three stories, or 35 feet tall, without underground parking; and four stories, or 45 feet, if underground parking is included.

Lorig and its CEO, Tom Fitzsimmons, sensed a "vibrancy" in the community, Erickson said. "I think there is an active nightlife in Poulsbo."

Fitzsimmons said any development of this property will be "tight" because of the slowly recovering economy, lending costs, potential room rates and the area's competitive environment.

Erickson said the old city hall was appraised two years ago, but she wouldn't disclose appraised value. The updated appraisal — either done internally or by an outside firm — will be based on the previous appraisal and land sales in the downtown area in the last few years. Erickson said then the city will have a better idea of the property's value.

"The cost of the land will give us a sense of what is financially possible," Fitzsimmons said. "It's a wonderful site, it's a great location. There ought to be something special that can be put there, and we're still trying to figure it out."


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