A centrally located plot of land in downtown Gig Harbor that has struggled recently to maintain full occupancy could be in line for an overhaul.
Located in downtown for more than half a century, the Peninsula Shopping Center might be getting a makeover.
Olympic Property Group is seeking public input on a potential plan to redevelop the 6-acre site located off Judson Street, currently home to the post office, 7 Seas Brewing and several other tenants. In previous incarnations, the center housed grocer QFC, before it moved its operation out of downtown, and more recently the center was home to Ace Hardware, which has closed.
The shopping center was built in the 1950s, at a time when the population core was centered in downtown Gig Harbor. That’s not the case now, said John Chadwell, vice president of land development for Olympic.
In order to bring the community in on the potential development of the property, OPG has scheduled two public meetings, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 28 and May 7 at the Inn at Gig Harbor. The property group has already met with tenants and neighbors.
“We want to hear early on what people’s concerns are ... we’ve found the earlier you get out there the better,” said Jon Rose, president of Olympic Property Group.
It’s a tricky situation to propose a new plan in downtown, Rose said. He acknowledged there might be criticism for not coming to the public meeting with a development plan in place yet, but he also said OPG will likely draw criticism if it shows up with a completed development plan.
“I don’t know how the community will feel about having (development) choices,” Rose said.
It’s a conundrum the developers have thought about long and hard.
“There’s always conversation about what downtown needs,” Rose said. “There’s a potential that this could be a very positive game-changing opportunity for downtown.”
If the consensus is that the shopping center should be left alone, OPG and the ownership group — comprised mostly of one local family — are prepared to drop the project.
Chamber of Commerce President Warren Zimmerman feels redevelopment of the site could be a positive for the downtown community and Gig Harbor as a whole.
“I think the project has a lot of potential if the community is ready for that kind of change and look and feel,” Zimmerman said.
One potential plan drawn up by Olympic consists of a site that would include some residential space on the property. Long-term leases are being honored and the hope is to incorporate aspects of current businesses into any new plans.
“Our first choice will always be to accommodate (the tenants),” Chadwell said.
A part-residential style would bring in new residents who live in walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants.
The potential for a dual purpose residential and commercial area is a common trend in cities currently. Zimmerman pointed to areas like downtown Tacoma, where condos are on the rise.
“We’ve always said that destination businesses are the key for downtown right now,” Zimmerman said. “If something like this were to be completed ... that would bring more population into the area.”
OPG previously developed Costco in Gig Harbor North. The biggest takeaway from that project was the importance of public and private partnerships, Rose said.
For those who cannot attend either public meeting, OPG plans to videotape each session and post the video online at a website created especially for the project. It will also allow visitors to post comments and submit questions about the project.