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City approves Park Avenue Plaza project sale Apartments to be built atop theater parking garage
Despite some last-minute concerns about possible parking issues, the Bremerton City Council unanimously approved a development agreement with the Park Avenue Plaza project and Lorax Partners LLC.
The updated agreement, several years in the making, paves the way for Lorax to build a 70-unit apartment complex next to the new downtown SEEFilm Bremerton Cinema. The apartments are seen as a capstone to the massive economic revitalization project between 4th and Burwell streets from Pacific to Park Avenues.
Lorax has until 2015 to begin the project or sell its development rights to a third party.
“We’re hopeful that will occur relatively soon, but with the vagaries of development, they have up to four years,” said city project consultant Gary Sexton.
Sexton told the city council that Lorax was also asking for a reduction in parking requirements from 70 spots to 50 spots on a monthly lease basis in the recently completed 250-slot garage that will eventually be under the apartments.
The last minute change to the parking agreement was only made available 15 minutes prior to the start of the city council meeting. Councilmember Greg Wheller said the timing gave him pause.
Sexton said that not having an agreeable parking agreement was a deal-breaker for the project.
“I’m not sure why this needs to be controversial because if the apartment owner is not going to use that particular space, then it’s available to the public at a potentially higher rate if our garage is in higher demand,” said Councilman Eric Younger.
Sexton agreed and noted that the whole concept for parking, from the beginning of the project, was to have enough flexibility to serve the shipyard, theater-goers, residents and businesses.
“We have had a huge shortage of parking for businesses downtown that have never had parking,” Sexton said, noting that having more flexibility and less demand from housing units on those stalls will be a good thing in the long run.
The council eventually voted unanimously to approve the purchase and sale agreement and authorized future negotiations on the parking agreement.