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Renewed energy needed for Viking Avenue | In Our Opinion
Courtesy Ford’s closure in September spurred a lot of movement on behalf of Viking Avenue. Out of a community meeting Oct. 17 emerged ideas to help the struggling thoroughfare. The Christmas tree-lighting ceremony was held for the first time in 20 years, and Mayor Becky Erickson declared that Viking Avenue is alive and well. There was talk of a summer car show. But then, the big mo went into slow mo.
Coming up with a new brand and a new vision for Viking Avenue should be a priority. Here are some ideas discussed earlier that should be revived. Perhaps the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce could spearhead this effort.
An organization of businesses and property owners similar to the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association could help identify services missing in Poulsbo that can be accommodated on Viking Avenue. Some city officials would like to see Viking Avenue’s vacant commercial space redeveloped with village-like mixed uses, with street-level stores and cafes and upper-level apartments and homes (Courtesy Ford’s John Hern helped lure Regal Cinemas to Viking Avenue when cars and RVs were king of the thoroughfare). Viking Avenue’s proximity to Liberty Bay and marine-related uses should be considered.
The city should be involved in the discussion. Mayor Becky Erickson believes the city could start a fund which can make zero-interest loans to businesses so they can make visual improvements to their businesses and properties.
Considerable public funds have been spent improving the thoroughfare. Street improvements were completed to the city limits. All necessary infrastructure is installed — curbs, gutters, sidewalks, street lighting, and utilities.
There are established businesses here: Ag-related services, a bank, brewery, children’s clothing store, grocery, home services, movie theater and restaurants, and historical resources such as the Martinson House Museum, Nelson Park, and the County Road 50 Walking Trail, a walking trail off of Viking Avenue. Viking Avenue is a great alternative route to Silverdale.
Even in hard times, Poulsbo’s other business districts have pulled through. All but a few Front Street spaces are rented. Poulsbo Village is fully occupied. Safeway has announced plans to build a store, pharmacy and gas station on 305 and Lincoln. New homes are being built.
Viking Avenue is an important part of the city’s economy. We are confident that it can be a vibrant thoroughfare once again.