Dr. Tom Haggar, a highly respected, and now retired, Bainbridge physician and the Scribner family are joining forces with other well-known Bainbridge families and investors to develop what has come to be called the Haggar Scribner Project – a landmark proposal located on Ericksen Avenue just north of Winslow Way, that could potentially re-shape the downtown area in a meaningful and dramatic way.
According to a comprehensive report published in a recent Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce newsletter, the development has the potential “to better connect civic and cultural life, create new public open space and pedestrian corridors, provide new mixed-use commercial and housing options, and add much-needed underground parking to downtown.”
Before moving forward, the backers of the project say they want is to ensure that the local community is able to comment and reflect on the project’s possibilities through the city’s public planning process. They also say that if their idea does not gain significant community support, it will not be pursued.
The Haggar Scribner Project features a group of investors with deep roots on the island and includes Dr. Tom Haggar, and wife Priscilla Zimmerman Haggar, Rob and Jayne Scribner, Larry and Sandy Nakata, Ron and Sue Nakata, and Susan and Ron Allen. The Nakata’s and Allen’s are closely affiliated with Town & Country Markets.
The project itself would create two new buildings off Ericksen Avenue NE behind The Orchard Building (formerly Virginia Mason’s medical clinic) and in front of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum just off Winslow Way.
If built, the development would create:
- An open walkway and park-like corridor from Winslow Way up to City Hall and Bainbridge Performing Arts, alongside the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
- Two sustainably-designed buildings (one four-story, one five-story) for mixed business and residential use (with both units at market rate and being designated at affordable housing rates)
- Parking and multi-modal transit options
- Subterranean parking of up to two levels below ground
- Pedestrian plazas, and,
- A new Civic and Cultural Overlay zone
To build the multi-million dollar plan – and realize the potential community benefits within – the Haggar Scribner group has applied for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to create a new Civic and Cultural Overlay District that, if approved, would be followed by an application for new development regulations that would:
- Allow greater Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
- Extend building height maximums, thereby reducing the project footprint (and allow more green space)
- Reduce parking requirements, allowing developers to minimize surface parking, build out the green space/pedestrian corridors, and encourage multi-modal transportation usage for residents
In an interview with the Kitsap Sun after plans were originally submitted last year, Ron Allen said the group’s hope was to keep the vital character of the downtown core, by giving the city a way to allocate density and preserve the island’s character and resources while improving Winslow’s walk-ability and supporting arts, culture, history and visitors.
“The idea is that rather than develop it in a way that really maximizes dollars and really utilizes the entire footprint, a big monolithic sort of structure, we’re hoping to develop it with two separate buildings with a lot of green space, a lot of open space, sort of a town square feel back here between the historical museum and (The Orchard) building that really allows some outdoor activity, really encourages people to be there,” Allen said (Kitsap Sun, March 2022). The Orchard Building is the name of the rehabbed former Virginia Mason clinic structure.
At it’s heart, according to the Chamber’s report, this project proposes that if “the City is willing to rethink their total adherence to height, density, and parking regulations, then great public benefit can be unlocked for all.” Backers, the Chamber says also invite, and looks forward to (a) vigorous public discussion and debate around that proposal.
As of this past week, the Bainbridge Island City Council and representatives of Haggar Scribner were still negotiating how to move forward given the complexity of the City’s existing planning process. As it now stands, the project could be delayed until after the Winslow Subarea Plan is completed, and perhaps even after the Comprehensive Plan Update is done. Any one of those moves, could delay the Haggar Scribner Project a year, if not longer.
To delve deeper into what is happening, it is important to know that every three years, City code allows new proposals for comprehensive plan/zoning amendments to be accepted. In January 2022, five proposals came forward and were accepted for further processing, of which this is one.
At issue is city policy and how business and development is conducted on the island, according to the Chamber.
Specifically, City Council Members have to unpack two recommended motions with regard to new development changes within the boundaries of the Winslow Subarea Plan:
- Option 1 – Projects should be processed in parallel to the Winslow Subarea Plan, meaning it would move forward under existing city process. A public hearing is currently scheduled before the planning commission for March 23, 2023
- Option 2 – Projects with zoning and development regulations will be held in abeyance until the Winslow Subarea Plan or Comprehensive Plan 2024 periodic review
“With all the innovations included within the Haggar Scribner proposal, the Chamber believes that our community would benefit from immediate full and open public feedback and input into this project and it’s proposed code amendments,” states the Chamber report.
“By definition of the city’s existing process, the project should continue to move forward,” adds the Chamber in its report. “Holding it for the Winslow Subarea Plan and perhaps the Comprehensive Plan leaves it open to a murky future at best.”
According the report, Haggar Scribner Project owners believe:
- Its unique siting and strategic location warrant the development of a Civic and Cultural Overlay zone
- The Civic and Cultural Overlay zone helps move the city forward without predetermining future development decisions
- Moving the process forward for community input will measure the merits of the project and provide clarity for the city
- Moving the project forward will not impact the overall conversations held with the Winslow Subarea Plan and Comprehensive Plan
- Project owners want a conversation at the community level
City Implications: “Ordinarily, a project like the one proposed by the Haggar Scribner group, would keep following the path that is currently laid out – with the planning commission hearing plans, asking questions, taking public comment and then referring it to City Council which would also host a public hearing and then vote,” the Chamber notes.
But at this moment, the city is working on several critical plan updates, including this year’s Winslow Subarea Plan revision and in 2024, an update to the Island-wide Comprehensive Plan. “Both of these processes present an opportunity for the city to think long-term about its strategies to manage growth, engage the community about what is needed and wanted, and also evaluate the process they use for the island’s development now and for a generation ahead,” the Chamber report points out.
Additional Business Implications: “Without a clear process for gaining local project approval, developers, businesses and individuals looking to build or renovate on the island will be nervous to undertake expensive multi-year without a defined path to success,” says the Chamber. “The city should provide simple guidelines for the places where development is welcomed and what kinds of development the community desires in those locations.”
“How plans are submitted and how the city’s process works are crucial elements in planning for impacts to expensive project timelines,” Chamber representatives further add. “This proposal offers the opportunity for City Council to show that they too are committed to simplifying and streamlining communication, direction, and process for the benefit of all.”
Previous local News Coverage:
- Gateway Idea for BI’s Cultural, Civic Core – Bainbridge Island Review (March 2022)
- Local Investment Group Eyes Winslow Development with Commercial, Residential Spaces – Kitsap Sun (March 2022)
Source: While this story heavily quotes a published report in a recent Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce newsletter, The Island Wanderer does not necessarily support all the views expressed by the Chamber.
*Image credits – courtesy of Haggar Scribner Partners via the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce
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