Battle is joined for Kitsap retail dollars

While the sprawling 215-acre College Marketplace complex near Poulsbo won’t necessarily move businesses out of Silverdale, it might keep North Kitsap, Bainbridge Island and Olympic Peninsula shoppers from coming here.

That’s what Steve Ruggiero, president for First American Properties told a Silverdale Chamber of Commerce noon luncheon meeting Wednesday about the north-end retail complex. The site was formerly called the Olhava development and is located near the SR 305 and SR 3 interchange in Poulsbo.

Stores such as Home Depot, Office Max and Wal-Mart have already claimed their spot in the controversial retail center that also includes an Olympic College satellite campus. The complex is expected to have a drive-thru Starbucks.

“The key to retail is convenience,” Ruggiero said.

The complex, which also includes a business park and residential area, is expected to attract 66,000 shoppers from Bainbridge and the north end of the county. About 25,000 would come from the Olympic Peninsula.

About 175 acres were clear cut and 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt were moved for the project where construction is ongoing.

“This land is graded and ready to go,” Ruggiero said.

The OC Poulsbo campus sits on about 20 acres and is finished and ready to accept students for the Winter Quarter in January 2004. The OC campus sits unseen on the property on a site not yet open to public viewing. About 1,000 students will use that campus, Ruggiero said.

About 845,000 square feet of space is dedicated to retail stores at the College Marketplace, including well-known fast food restaurants.

One chamber member asked Ruggiero about rental rates in the complex to which he replied “expensive to very expensive.” The $12-$26 per-square-foot rate includes all infrastructure costs, Ruggerio said.

“Restuarants have been tough,” to entice to the site he said, because the daytime population is not high enough.

Acting as a retail anchor at the complex so far is a Wal-Mart store, which received vehement protest from segments of the Poulsbo community. The store is set to open in about a year. It has the option of adding 73,000 square feet for a grocery portion of the store.

The Home Depot would open winter on 2005 and Ruggiero assured the audience that the Silverdale store is not closing, despite rumours that had swirled through Silvedale even this week. Home Depot is trying to “outposition Lowes,” that recently opened a mega-store on SR 303 in greater East Bremerton, Ruggerio said.

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