Port of Poulsbo may buy old city hall property

Poulsbo's former city hall building lies in the shadow of its successor. The city currently has plans to demolish the building. The Port of Poulsbo is currently considering purchasing the property for a variety of ideas, such as converting it into a parking lot or a facility for a farmers market.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo became a serious contender to take over the city’s former city hall property after the City Council agreed to hold it for them.

At least, hold it for the time being.

“We are looking around to see what we can do with it, and get some ideas,” Port Commission Chairman Tony DeCarlo said Dec. 19.

Poulsbo’s former city hall sits vacant on a stretch of downtown’s Jensen Way. It is currently on the market for $1.25 million. The City Council approved a right of refusal agreement on Dec. 18 between the city and the port. The agreement gives the port first place in a line of prospective buyers.

“We thought we’d see if we can put a hold on the sale and see if we can get some concrete ideas,” DeCarlo said.

DeCarlo noted that the port has not made any plans for the property, rather, it seeks to determine the feasibility of various ideas.

“We’re looking at an investment, doing some major changes,” he said. “We haven’t really decided what we want to do with it.”

One idea recently sprung on the port is a possible partnership with the Poulsbo Farmers Market, which seeks a permanent location and facility for its Saturday market.

“That’s come up in the conversation,” DeCarlo said about the farmers market. “We’ve thought that we would like to do something like that.” He said another idea that’s been discussed is turning the old city hall property into a parking area and turning Anderson Parkway into “a town square, you might say, a people place.”

The agreement, approved by the City Council, states that the city will not seek offers from other parties until March 31, 2014.

“(The port) would like a period of time to investigate what can be done with the city hall property,” Mayor Becky Erickson said.

Erickson had hoped to see a hotel developed on the old city hall site. Lorig Associates, a Seattle-based real estate development and management firm, had an option on the property, but plans never materialized and Lorig’s option expired.

If the port does take on the property, one thing is certain — the city’s plans to demolish the old city hall will go forward.

“The building would probably go,” DeCarlo said. “We wouldn’t keep the building.”

While the city won’t seek additional offers, if another buyer does come forth on their own, the city will consult the port to see if it can meet the price.

If the city does receive an unsolicited offer on the property, and the port does not wish to beat it, the city has the option to go with the new buyer.

While the port explores its options, both the city and the port agree to consider partnering on improvements to streets, parking, or public spaces around the property.

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