"Realtors, business owners complain about high rent"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 3:04 PM
"When it comes time to pay the rent in Central Kitsap, retailers and real estate brokers alike complain about the high price of doing business.Ever since Kitsap Mall came to Silverdale, Central Kitsap has been the prime retail area in the county. But some say it is not a complete commercial paradise.Small businesses are most visibly feeling the strain. Although larger businesses have been welcomed to Silverdale, smaller shops sometimes scramble to find the right amount of space at the right price.Al Balahdia, who owns the Silverdale Trophy House, just moved his store across Silverdale Way from the Silverdale Plaza to Towne Centre. Balahadia's store was in Silverdale Plaza for 10 years, but was told to leave earlier this year when a new owner took it over. They said they were 'going in a new direction,' Balahadia said. What that means exactly, I don't know.Balahadia was given a month to find a new place to do business, which he said was hard because his store is so small. He found one at Towne Centre, which was about the same size as his last store, but the rent there was $300 higher per month.Balahadia's story echoes the warnings of local real estate brokers, who say small businesses have a hard time staying afloat in Silverdale. It tends to be a weekend market, Steve Austin of Austin Real Estate said. The population here is difficult to support retailers all week long.Real estate agents and plaza owners, meanwhile, lament government regulations. Developers and retailers are becoming increasingly frustrated with environmental and growth management laws. Building permits - both commercial and residential - have steadily declined since 1993.In 1997, 41 retail store permits were granted, while only 12 were granted in 1999. Through July of this year, just four had been granted. The political environment is so anti-growth, Austin said. Real estate brokers say the higher rent prices are a result of the old principle of supply and demand at work. Since new land is difficult to develop, new buildings will be expensive to build and rent for existing ones will rise. The new plazas built might not be havens for small business anyway. Of the 17,000 square feet offered at the new Bucklin Place plaza near Albertsons, 9,800 have been bought up by a national coffee chain and a major financial institution. A spokesperson for the firm that owns the building declined to say which financial institution or which national coffee chain were to move in. The plaza is set to open early next year.Real estate brokers said those who have problems with rents are those who can not make a living off their stores.Office space, on the other hand, is abundant, which some say is reflective of what is lacking in Kitsap County. Since retail jobs rarely can support a whole family, real estate developers say major industry needs to come to the county. Every day it is more and more difficult to improve raw land, Doug Kitchens of Reid Real Estate said. If it keeps up like this, Silverdale will be dead. "