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Market analysis showcases PO's pluses, minuses

A much-anticipated market analysis was presented to the Port Orchard Revitalization Team (P.O.R.T.) last Tuesday along with both good and bad news: Downtown Port Orchard is broken — but it can be fixed.

The Port Orchard Downtown Economic Development Plan, the main agenda item for the third meeting between the P.O.R.T., the Economic Development Committee and hired consultant EDAW, was created “to identify market conditions for various uses and potential development opportunities.”

A presentation in two acts, the first included a detailed market analysis, the second listed Port Orchard’s economic opportunities in the face of the results.

Greg Easton, head of an economics firm, first presented results from the analysis he conducted.

“In any community, you look at strong sectors as places to build on and weaker sectors as opportunities,” Easton said.

According to Easton, Port Orchard has a strong retail base and several sectors of business stand out above the rest.

The market analysis and economic suggestions took into account the four main sectors of Port Orchard’s financial base — retail, residential, office and lodging. After a lengthy presentation wrought with charts and figures, Easton offered a practical, albeit unspecific, approach to the further enhancement of downtown through the sectors:

-- Multi-use Buildings

Requirements for Success:

Strong location for each use; High rents to support development costs; High land value to justify structured parking; Low land cost (write-down) to provide return; capture value of existing structures; low-interest financing; low-entitlement and mitigation costs

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Improved feasibility with increasing rents/prices; reuse of existing structures where possible; new construction on high amenity (view and/or waterfront).

-- Restaurants

Requirements for success:

Multiple restaurants create combined draw; range of options:

formal to casual dining, coffee shop/deli and specialty foods, specialty fare

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Expansion of existing; Attract second outlet of retail operators

-- Anchor Stores

Requirements for success:

Local and regional draw; distinctive setting

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Concentration of multiple related businesses; bookstore with community events; sports-related sales and rentals (boats, bikes, etc.); higher-valued antique merchandise.

-- Specialty Shops

Requirements for success:

Local and regional draw; distinctive setting; distinctive merchandise; strong anchors.

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Bookstore; art galleries; sports-related sales and rentals; antiques; specialty foods.

-- Office Space

Requirements for Success:

Convenient location for local-serving; High visibility, easy access highway location for regional serving or headquarters; High amenity setting for professional services; Proximity to demand generators such as courthouse and administration.

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Local-serving office uses; Professional services; Legal services; Possible headquarters location for firm with local ties or interests

-- Lodging

Requirements for Success:

High visibility, easy access highway location; captive source of demand; year-round demand; high amenity site for specialty lodging; critical mass.

Potential in Downtown Port Orchard:

Additional bed and breakfasts.

“I think the group is moving in the right direction,” said downtown resident Fred Chang. “The general feeling I got last night is it’s a slow process.”

Chang, however, said he was looking for something a little more than the predictable numbers and generalized suggestions.

“He didn’t have any specifics like where to put things,” Chang said. “We were looking more for specifics.”

Chang said he is also concerned about what he perceives as several differing opinions within the group regarding which direction to go.

“I’m concerned that we haven’t really gelled on a consensus,” Chang said. “I’m glad the group is the size that it is. I’m just concerned that the group may not have a consensus.”

According to David Porter of the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council, the key to economic development is the attraction and retention of jobs and an investment in the community.

“The challenge I put to you as a group of citizens...be courageous,” Porter said.

Porter was scheduled to speak at the last meeting and decided at the last minute to change his talk to include a NASCAR update. Porter said the 600 acre site in the SKIA could be selected by NASCAR for the placement of its new track within the next six weeks.

“If this happens, the impact on Port Orchard will be extraordinary,” Porter said. “There’s a lot that can be done with courage and leadership.”

“This thing is going to occur on an incremental basis over time,” Easton said. “A lot of things that you have to do are small steps.”

“I’m glad we’re having meetings and I hope we can get more participation,” Chang said. I’m hopeful things will just proceed.”

The next P.O.R.T. meeting with hired consultant EDAW is scheduled for Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall’s Council Chambers.

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