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KCMT, brewery eye Courtesy Ford site

By KIPP ROBERTSON and RICHARD D. OXLEY

POULSBO — Two parties are interested in purchasing the former Courtesy Ford property on Viking Avenue. Depending on who prevails, the site will be the home of a brewery or a children’s theater.

The Kitsap Children’s Musical Theater has rehearsed in the former dealership building since spring. The theater company hopes to make the location its permanent home.

KCMT board president Gene Johnson said he is “fairly confident that we’ll have another year” on the property, to give KCMT time to raise money to purchase the site.

Poulsbo’s Sound Brewery, however, has made a purchase offer.

“We have already made an offer on the building and we are now simply waiting for their appraisal,” said Mark Hood of Sound Brewery, currently located down the street on Bovela Lane.

Sound Brewery submitted a proposal and letter of intent for the purchase on Oct. 3, Hood said.

Eager to keep KCMT at the Courtesy Ford site, Johnson said he’s been assured by the seller that other offers on the property have not been sufficient.

If the brewery purchases the property, it would move from a 4,500-square-foot building to one with more than 40,000 square feet.

Either move could potentially serve as a catalyst for economic development on the avenue, which lost its vehicle dealerships during the recession. Courtesy Ford closed in August 2011 and the property is in receivership. It’s on the market for about $2.3 million.

In 2007, the city received $633,091 as its share of sales tax revenue generated by Viking Avenue businesses, and up to 22,000 vehicles a day traveled the thoroughfare. By the time Courtesy Ford closed, the city’s share of sales tax revenue had dipped below $300,000 and the vehicle count was down to 12,724 a day.

Johnson hopes to lower the price on the Courtesy Ford property and raise enough money for KCMT to purchase it. Ideally, KCMT would pay $1.5 million or less, he said. Right now, there are “a few extra 0’s than we can afford,” Johnson said.

KCMT will start a capital campaign in January, Johnson said.

KCMT has spent about $18,000 to bring portions of the former dealership building up to code. There are areas, such as the former service area, which still have hazardous material that keep the theater company from using it, Johnson said. And the roof leaks.

“There are a number of problems,” Johnson said.

Ideally, Johnson said KCMT would like to own the space it’s in and build its own auditorium. Starting a performing arts school is being discussed too.

KCMT’s offer on the site will come when it builds up enough money in reserves in 2014, according to Johnson.

The Courtesy Ford site is not KCMT’s only option, however. Johnson said he met with North Kitsap School District officials to discuss moving to Breidablik Elementary School, which was closed at the end of the 2013-14 school year. He has a follow-up meeting with Superintendent Patty Page next week, he said.

If the theater company moved to Breidablik, KCMT would pay utilities and have a lease similar to its lease of the Courtesy Ford site, Johnson said.

The theater company pays $1 a year on its current lease.

Johnson said KCMT’s plan is to renew its Courtesy Ford lease as long as possible. Breidablik “is our fallback plan,” he said.

If Breidablik fell through, Johnson said the company has looked at other buildings in the area, as well as empty plots of land and industrial space. There are also possible partnerships with schools — he didn’t mention a specific school — that are interested in expanding their performing arts offerings.

Sound Brewery and KCMT have not been the only parties interested in the Courtesy Ford property. North Kitsap Fishline had considered the site, but opted to buy the neighboring Poulsbo RV property. Fishline will move from 3rd Avenue to Viking Avenue by February.

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