Manchester grills developers

A crowd of more than 100 people gathered in the Manchester Library parking lot on Tuesday evening to hear private land planner Bill Palmer and developer David Hopkins discuss their plans to bring new commercial space and upscale condominiums to downtown Manchester.

Equipped with free bottles of water for meeting attendees and a volunteer parking attendant to help guide the parking away from the meeting setup, Manchester Community Council (MCC) President Bob Ballard introduced David Hopkins, an unexpected guest speaker.

Hopkins, of Hoppet Design and Construction, Inc., announced his plan to purchase the Past and Presents building, as well as the Manchester Food Center along with Mamma Java and Go Figure. Hopkins provided a conceptual drawing of his building plan, which includes tearing down the existing buildings.

“My concept is Nantucket-Martha’s Vineyard-Marine,” Hopkins said, including shingles, white trim, gables, trellises, arbors and flower boxes.

Hopkins said he plans to keep the signage on the building to a minimum and to place overhead utility wires in the ground.

Hopkins said the new structure will contain several 5,700 to 7,000 square feet commercial spaces on the ground floor, six condos on the second floor and two on the third. He said he is well aware of the 35-foot height restriction in Manchester.

The eight condos will be between 1,200 and 2,600 square feet, Hopkins said, and sell for approximately $475,000.

Gated, covered parking will be provided for residents while retail parking will remain exactly the same.

Hopkins said he already has a potential tenant interested in opening another grocery store in the new building. He has yet to approach the current tenants regarding their leases.

“We don’t want to approach them until we have definite ownership,” Hopkins said, also citing their lack of concrete timelines.

“This is a building project with such a high level of quality that it will last a long time,” Hopkins said.

According to Hopkins, his goal as a designer is to provide a quality structure that fits the character of Manchester.

Private land planner Bill Palmer spoke on behalf of John Clark, who is in the process of purchasing the gas station site along with the vacated barber shop on Colchester.

Palmer, who lived in Manchester for years, said his client envisions 10,225 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, six condos on the second and six on the third. He said the condos would sell for approximately $350,000.

The project includes 34 underground parking spaces and 19 outside the building.

“The design theme is not quite the same as (Hopkins),” Palmer said, “but there are some similarities,” including gables and arches.

“Between the two projects, this is a proposal that’s going to change the character of Manchester,” Palmer said.

According to Palmer taverns and gas stations can not be tenants of these two projects, but other retailers are free to lease space once they are completed.

Palmer expects completion of both projects before next fall.

Manchester residents voiced concerns about an increase in traffic and the fact that the two projects didn’t match in terms of their exterior look.

However, some residents agreed there needs to be some revitalization of downtown.

“Manchester needs to be updated, and you’re doing the right thing,“ said one resident.

The Site Plan Review Process being used by Kitsap County to review the projects’ applications is purely administrative, which means there will be no public hearing on development plans. Environmental and traffic studies are required for the projects.

Hopkins reiterated after the meeting that he’s hoping to build something Manchester can be proud of and is, in fact, thinking of buying one of his condos and moving to the community.

The developers will meet again with the county on Aug. 16, the next step in their pre-application process.

The MCC reported that as of Tuesday, it has 52 active members, paying yearly dues of $20.

The council has increased its membership 35 percent since March.

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