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Success of new indoor market could depend on foot ferries
The owner of a downtown building agreed to cover additional renovation costs which will put opening a Pike Place-style indoor market on schedule for the summer.
Port Orchard Bay Street Association (POBSA) President Don Ryan made the announcement during his group’s meeting Feb. 21 at Moon Dogs, Too.
Ryan said that Mansour Samadpour, a Seattle microbiologist who owns the old Slip 45 building and several others in downtown Port Orchard, will cover unexpected costs that were not in the $350,000 original estimate.
“We’re back on for our market,” Ryan said. “It’s been stressful for me just because of what we have gone through.”
He said asbestos found in the building will have to removed and a $70,000 sprinkler system increased the cost to about $500,000 for the project.
Ryan announced that Jim Way, owner of Pristine Homes, will be the contractor for the project.
He said Way is finalizing the contracts with Samadpour and that the permits are ready to pick up at City Hall.
“Hopefully, if we can get the contracts signed and the permit, we could physically be in the building within a week,” Ryan told the group. “It’s very exciting process for us and Port Orchard.
Ryan said Samadpour is investing a lot of money into the project, but Samadpour told him there is two things it needs to be successful — the right customer base and tourists.
He said he feels the foot ferries are key in the success of the market and downtown Port Orchard.
“We need foot traffic and our biggest downfall is our foot ferries,” Ryan said. “We don’t have evening, nights and weekends to get tourists to our town.”
Ryan told POBSA members there was a “solution, but not a total fix” concerning the foot ferry.
“We used to have 10 to 12 bars downtown and a great night life, but we don’t have that anymore,” Ryan said.
Kitsap Harbor Tours, which is under contract to provide foot ferry service for Kitsap Transit, operates Monday through Saturday, with the ferry departing from Port Orchard starting at 4:30 a.m. and the final departure is at 8:30 p.m. The Saturday schedule is from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Some Sunday service in scheduled until the summer months — the last weekend in May to the first weekend of September.
Discussion about the ferry was a topic of the Feb. 19 City Council work session held at City Hall.
The City Council discussed determining days for foot ferry service that would benefit citizens while promoting tourism during the summer. In 2012, Kitsap Harbor Tours provided service for 17 days during the summer months, May 27 to Sept. 3, at $146 per hour — which is shared with Bremerton and the Port of Bremerton.
The City’s Economic Development Tourism Committee is leaning toward not funding service for non-festival event Sundays or holidays, because of lack of ridership.
Councilman Fred Chang noted it cost $1,600 for 11 hours of Sunday service and suggested eliminating the Sunday routes and spending the money for extending hours to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Currently service ends at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 p.m on Saturday.
“We’re adding 8 hours for $1,100 as opposed to the $1,600 for Sunday service,” Chang said. “I’d think it would be interesting than funding Sundays where we see the ridership at 20 people or less.”
He also suggested charging $2 per person per trip instead of people using their passes.
“That may create come traffic between Bremerton and downtown,” Chang said.
For several years, the Council has used hotel/motel tax funds for extended hours of service during the summer on Sundays and holiday events.
“Let’s take that money and get our Friday and Saturday night services back, and get tourism and people back into our town,” Ryan added.
Ryan said he would notify Samadpour that the City Council is working on increase service times on the ferry.