Gateway: Opinion

From the Helm: Could Peninsula Shopping Center development be catalyst for downtown?

The News Tribune

I wasn’t completely surprised when I got news that the redevelopment plans for the Peninsula Shopping Center were back on.

Let’s be frank: The center is a prime spot of land (nearly 6 acres!) downtown that could really use some freshening up.

First, a quick recap. After Olympic Property Group presented to the Gig Harbor community a list of development ideas aimed at revamping the shopping center about a year ago, no immediate action was taken. But the feedback received from a pair of hour-long presentations had OPG officials feeling good about the potential for development in the shopping center along Judson Street in downtown Gig Harbor.

“We got a fair amount of encouragement to keep exploring (options),” Jon Rose, president of OPG, said of last year’s community meetings.

Although Rose said he felt the community wasn’t ready for a complete demolition of the center, OPG officials didn’t get a healthy dose of overly negative feedback that might throw a monkey-wrench into the project.

After sorting through community feedback and narrowing down the number of development options, OPG unveiled three different plans for development of the site during a presentation Tuesday night at the Inn at Gig Harbor.

Each plan features a different mix of residential, commercial and public-use options for the site. All of the plans include the same amount of residential apartment units, 115, and pave the way for the businesses currently housed in the portion of the center which will be redeveloped to relocate into a building east of 7 Seas Brewing. While the post office’s shipping and receiving docks and storage facility would disappear with the redevelopment, Rose said the design could possibly allow for a USPS storefront if there is a demand. Along with the taproom, Columbia Bank and Charlie Barnes Kids will not be displaced as a result of the project, which will redevelop about 3 of the 5.7 acres.

The property has continuously been listed for lease since 2013. In 2011 both grocer QFC and drug store Rexall left the center. In 2015, Ace Hardware closed. The owners of the shopping center wanted to make sure current tenants were not displaced as a result of the development, Rose said.

“The family does not want to leave a bad legacy,” Rose said.

The plans each call for different heights of the apartment buildings, ranging from two to five stories. All feature underground parking for tenants. Although the building heights rise with each plan, the overall horizontal footprint for the site gets smaller, allowing more space for a town-square-like gathering spot, Rose said.

“The city could easily build a pavilion building — similar to the one Puyallup has — that could be used for meetings, fundraising events or even rented out for weddings and receptions,” Rose said.

I think pavilion building is a great idea. It would give the community some ownership of the space. Right now, that potential space involves a lot of empty parking stalls that are not being utilized. Rose said the plans also have the option for a city-owned parking lot.

What’s one of the biggest issues with new development coming into downtown? Yes, parking. This plan could solve several issues on that front.

While the proposed rental housing is aimed at baby boomers looking to downsize, it’s not out of the realm to think young professionals could move in as well, creating a nice demographic downtown.

That has to be music to the ears of downtown business owners.

Tyler Hemstreet: 253-358-4150,, @gateway_tyler