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Westbay Center has new owner

Bay Street’s oft-struggling Westbay Center has a new owner in Bob Hampton, head of Pacific Silver, Inc., a wholesale distribution business in Gig Harbor.

Hampton paid $3 million for the 3.6 acre, 38,000-square-foot waterfront property, originally developed in the 1960s.

“I have a wholesale company in Gig Harbor and we were looking for a larger space to occupy,” Hampton said.

Hampton said his business would assume one of the three vacancies in the center, about 4,000 square feet. Hampton said in addition to providing more space for his business endeavors, he looks at the center as a long-term investment.

He said he is not aware of any tenants who will move out because of the switch.

Westbay Center was one of the first shopping centers in Port Orchard. It was purchased in 1990 by Bill Cree and was at the center of a debate over the proposed building of a casino in 2001.

In 2003, Cree spent $800,000 making improvements to the property. Current Westbay Center tenants include Bay Buoy Espresso, Cafe Le Garmache Catering, Helpline, Hi-Tide Bar and Grill, Perfect Parties, Port Orchard Asian Store, Security Financial Services and Taste of Eden Bakery.

“I look forward to continuing the progress made here and bringing my business to Port Orchard,” Hampton said. “I’m in the process of reviewing ideas for further physical improvements of the building and grounds. I (am) actively looking to fill a couple of the remaining spaces with businesses that are as excited as we are.”

However, the City of Port Orchard may have different plans.

EDAW, the consultant hired by the city of Port Orchard and put in charge of a revitalization plan for downtown, recommended in its final report that Westbay Center be for mixed-use development.

As Project No. 10 on EDAW’s list, Westbay Center would ideally evolve over the next six to 10 years, giving way to private development.

EDAW representatives reported in December the Westbay Center was a low-cost, high-value, medium-priority project for the city to take on.

According EDAW’s recommendation, “The proposed project would include medium-density residential development at 15-20 dwelling units per acre, for a total of 60-70 new dwelling units. Developed as townhouse units, the development would make maximum use of this attractive waterfront site.”

EDAW’s recommendation goes on to suggest that “interim uses of the site should be selected carefully to retain the potential for this long-term development.”

EDAW recommends the city work with the property’s owner to explore interest in development and to define options for the site.

“I have heard different aspects of (EDAW’s recommendation),” Hampton said. “Six to 10 years down the road is quite a while for things to change. In the short term, I don’t see any of that happening.”

Hampton said he thinks something needs to happen with Bay Street itself before the center is included in revitalization plans. He plans to begin to occupy his new business space in the next two months.

“I think ultimately the best use of the Westbay Center would be something like what was proposed,” Hampton said.

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