Developments moving forward

Two proposed mixed-use development projects in Manchester that gained momentum last summer are headed toward public hearings next month.

Public hearings for both the “Manchester Commons” project, headed by developer David Hopkins of Hoppet Design and Construction, and independent land planner Bill Palmer’s “Colchester Commons” are tentatively scheduled for May 25. Both projects call for rebuilding downtown buildings purchased last summer, using the ground floors for retail space and high-end condos on the floors above.

Hopkins, whose original vision for his future building at the intersection of Colchester and Main Streets was described as “Nantucket-Martha’s Vineyard-Marine,” said his designs for the building have evolved and now combine both the old and the new.

“We really wanted to not just build a box,” Hopkins said.

There will still be arbors, trellises, flower boxes and railing, Hopkins said, but the condos looking out over the water will have a more modern feel. Still, he said he has included setbacks, covered walkways, trees and a variety of other features that will promote a small-town feel.

“We want an easy-to-look-at, mixed-use building that feels like home,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins, whose specialty is custom homes, said he is pleased the project is finally moving forward.

“It’s been a painful learning curve,” Hopkins said of working with Kitsap County. “These people care very much about the people of Manchester.”

After the public hearing, Hopkins’ project will go before the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner for a recommendation. If approved, the project will be submitted to the Kitsap County commissioners for a final decision.

Hopkins said if all goes well, the project could break ground by late summer.

Residents with comments on the impact of the project that address issues other than aesthetics are encouraged to attend the hearing, to be held at the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard.

Although Hopkins said he knows there will always be those who fear change, he wants Manchester residents to understand that growth will eventually happen in Manchester and he is trying to build the most attractive, longest-lasting, well-made building he can, adding to the spirit of the community. He plans on scaling down his other responsibilities so he can be the on-site supervisor for the project and see the building built himself.

“At this point, success would be for me to know that the community knows it can trust someone, that people are proud to live in Manchester and proud of the building,” Hopkins said.

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