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By RACHEL BRANT
Vacant buildings and for lease signs are visible throughout Kitsap County.
But the streets of Silverdale are heavily lined with vacant spaces, just waiting to be filled.
According to an October survey by Bradley Scott Inc., the current county-wide office vacancy rate is 12.16 percent, which is a substantial increase from last years 9.94 percent. Last October, Silverdales office vacancy rate was only 5.04 percent and now sits at 13.07 percent. Bradley Scott surveyed more than 3 million-square-feet of office space.
Gary Gartin, a commercial leasing specialist with Bradley Scott, said a major contributing factor to the high office vacancy rate is the amount of new construction over the last couple years. The amount of office space available in Silverdale has increased by more than 68,000-square-feet during the past year.
Part of Silverdales high vacancy rate is due to new buildings, particularly the Cavalon, Gartin said.
Cavalon Place includes 72,000-square-feet of space and is the primary cause of the increase, according to the Kitsap County Trends Report for spring/summer 2007. Although a large portion of the Cavalon spaces have been filled, several businesses are moving from other Silverdale locations to call the Cavalon home.
We have been putting up buildings in some areas faster than were filling them, Gartin said.
Gartin and the Trend Report also cite the lack of business owners searching for office space as another cause of the high vacancy rate.
Activity has slowed down and new buildings are high, Gartin said. There hasnt been that person coming in looking for those spaces.
East Bremerton showed a decrease in office vacancy rates, but Gartin said that is due in part to no new construction in that area.
Because the cost of new construction has risen dramatically during the years, the lease rates are up to 50 percent higher than the rates in older buildings, according to the Trends Report. As a result, landlords in older buildings are taking the opportunity to increase their rates as well.
Four Seasons Pools and Spas owners left their Silverdale Way location in March. After spending 20 years in Silverdale, Chuck and Nancy Latham, co-owners, moved both their retail and warehouse centers into one Poulsbo location. Chuck said they were paying high dollar rent for the retail space in Silverdale and decided to relocate.
Retail floor space like that is high price, Latham said.
Latham said that combining the showroom and warehouse centers is saving him about $5,000 a month. Latham said he is happy with his Poulsbo location and does not foresee himself moving the pools and spas business back to Silverdale any time soon.
I dont think theres a spot in Silverdale that can accommodate a warehouse and showroom, Latham said. I moved away from a lot of my customer base, but ... Ive got a lot of loyal customers that will go out of their way to see me.
The retail vacancy rates in Silverdale are slightly up from last Octobers percentages, but Gartin and the Trend Report said that space for smaller tenants is limited. Large retail spaces are available to lease, but small retailers do not need large spaces for their businesses.
Although the vacancy rates are high, Gartin said there has been an increased number of business owners searching for space in the past two months.
There has been a pickup in activity in the past two months, Gartin said. I have not done any formal surveying, but I estimate close to 20,000-square-feet has been leased.
Gartin said the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge will improve transportation to Kitsap County and hopefully draw more businesses to the area. He also said the workload at the local Navy bases is increasing and more submarines and ships are moving to Kitsap County, which also could draw more businesses to the area.
We need to find ways for the local governments and local communities to know that Kitsap is open for business, Gartin said. Itll be interesting to see what happens in the next 20 years.