Council draws downtown development boundaries

The Port Orchard City Council and Planning Commission met on Thursday night for the third in a series of monthly meetings designed to to review and decide whether to implement changes to the city’s current building regulations to accommodate a recent slew of developers interested in Port Orchard’s downtown core.

Mark Hinshaw, an urban planner and designer with LMN Associates in Seattle, attended the meeting at the request of the council, presenting a commissioned “visual simulation” of downtown Port Orchard.

“Hinshaw showed the council what the downtown core would look like if developers were to build downtown using the existing code and then how it would look if the council lifted some of the height restrictions,” said Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel.

According to Abel, Hinshaw provided several virtual points throughout the city where the council could experience looking out over the downtown core to see where building heights might block current views, including at the intersections of Kitsap and Sidney Avenue and Sidney and Prospect Street.

The council was asked to consider the idea of “view corridors” throughout versus the full horizon view now enjoyed by many residents.

After Hinshaw’s presentation, each member of the council and commission received a map of downtown and a colored pen to use while discussing the next step — drawing a boundary for a downtown overlay district.

Abel said the discussion was a fruitful one and councilmembers seemed to agree on making the downtown district pedestrian-friendly and keeping the higher-density, mixed use development close to the downtown core.

She said developers were also encouraged to take advantage of Port Orchard’s hillside when building.

Abel said Port Orchard Planning Director Joanne Long-Woods will take each councilmember’s map and bring a proposal back to the next meeting.

“This initial study-session portion is really meant to produce a draft for the community to consider,” Abel said.

She said she is pleased with the plans for downtown are progressing.

“The first year (I was in office), we were developing a plan for downtown,” Abel said. “The second year, we were thinking about how we might accomplish our plan. This year, we’re going to start implementing it.”

The evening concluded with representatives of Amajin Architecture, Ink., presenting a 4-by-11 topographical model of downtown Port Orchard showing existing buildings and its proposed new building as they fit into existing terrain.

Amajin first presented its conceptual drawing of the $36 million project, which features a building ranging from 120,000 and 180,000 square feet with retail on its ground floor, office space above and 30 to 90 condos on the upper floors, early last month.

The Port Orchard City Council and Planning Commission will meet again on April 20 at 7 p.m. at Port Orchard City Hall.

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