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Colossal city-county building going to Bremerton
"Perhaps it will be made of glass and steel, chrome and concrete or brick and mortar.Whatever the construction materials, city of Bremerton, Kitsap County and Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority officials are moving full steam ahead on a new city-county government building for downtown Bremerton.If approved by the three entities in coming weeks, construction on the $28-$33 million, 140,000-square-foot building could begin in mid- to late-2001. The three-story structure would be located northeast of the Washington Mutual Bank building in downtown Bremerton, in the block roughly bordered by 5th Street, Pacific Avenue and 6th Street.I am excited, said Bremerton City Council member Ed Rollman, in whose district the building would sit. In the past you didn't have the city and the county working together and what you got was everything that's happened on State Highway 303 north of the city. It is a big plus for the renewal of downtown Bremerton.A task force chaired by KCCHA Executive Director Norm McLoughlin has been meeting twice a month to bang out building requirements.The city and county would move all administrative functions, except law and justice, for both jurisdictions into the building.We are not only looking at the physical nature of the combination, said Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton, But we are also talking about technology incorporated within the building so we can serve the public in a better fashion.Horton said because the city's borders are very irregular, we have a lot of people who don't know if they live inside or outside (the city limits.)One of the things we've talked about is when you walk in the door, you can access your address into a computer bank and it can tell you which jurisdiction you live in, and you can take a left, or a right, or whatever.The building would house retail space on the ground floor, Horton said.It would include joint space for the city council and county commissioners, as well as a joint conference space, lunchroom, copy center and mail room. It would have computer spaces, information services, a printing and binding area, a loading dock and a telephone operations area.Though Bremerton and Kitsap County have talked for years about centrally located, shared facilities, Horton said the idea gained momentum about a year ago when Commissioner Tim Botkin began championing it.Botkin said the building concept has moved beyond the conceptual stage.I will be more surprised if we drop this than if we do it, Botkin said.The government center was proposed not because we have to, but because economic development makes sense in Bremerton more than anywhere else, he said.It is the most important thing we can do for Bremerton, added Botkin's colleague, Commissioner Chris Endresen.A likely funding source for the building would be real estate excise taxes from property sales, which, by law, must be spent on capital projects.The city and county would sign 30-year leases for the building. The facility would be managed by the KCCHA, which would only utilize about 2,000 square feet, according to McLoughlin.Horton said the county would build the structure using its bonding capacity, with the city and county paying off the bonds via excise taxes.The city, county and KCCHA plan to sign a three-party agreement soon, perhaps by the holidays.Botkin estimated it would take three months to pin down exact how much the building would cost. He is optimistic construction could begin as soon as spring 2001. Botkin said the facility would be consistent and progressive with Bremerton's overall master plan for the downtown area. He said the building must have durability and be beneficial and invigorative to Bremerton.Horton and McLoughlin are not as optimistic as Botkin that construction could begin in the spring.We've got to design the thing, Horton said. I don't know if there is any way at this point to begin construction by the end of next year or not. It depends on how the design comes together. I'd like to turn dirt in early fall of 2001, that's been my target all along. But sometimes, the governmental process takes longer.Still, Horton foresees no major roadblocks to project approval and completion. Construction should take about 18 months.The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned, Horton said.Horton realized the project would not have been possible without Kitsap County's help.They realize that Kitsap County's progress is reliant, to a large degree, upon Bremerton's progress, Horton said. I believe that the county commissioners would like to aid in that progress. "