At the February 14 meeting, City council voted 5-2 not to consider the Haggar Scribner Project as a separate, parallel planning process to the ongoing considerations of updates to city code. Council subsequently voted unanimously to detach the project from next year’s Comprehensive Plan considerations, and instead consider Haggar Scribner’s amendment requests as part of this year’s Winslow Subarea Plan discussions.
Immediately following those decisions, on the morning of February 15, The Haggar Scribner partners formally withdrew the project from public consideration entirely. Stay tuned for further updates.
02/14/21: Developers With Deep Island Roots Propose Downtown Housing & More Within A New Civic + Cultural Zone
From the minds of longtime island physicians and well-respected Bainbridge families comes the Haggar Scribner Project – a landmark proposal located on Ericksen Avenue just north of Winslow Way, a proposal that could re-shape the downtown area in a meaningful and dramatic way.
According to it’s leaders, the Haggar Scribner Project 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.
Those same project leaders state that what they want is to ensure the local community is able to comment and reflect on the project’s possibilities through the city’s public planning process. They have also said that if their idea does not gain significant community support, it will not be pursued.
What Is Happening?
The Haggar Scribner Project features a group of investors with deep roots on the island including Tom Haggar and Priscilla Zimmerman Haggar, Rob and Jayne Scribner, Larry and Sandy Nakata, Ron and Sue Nakata, and Susan and Ron Allen.
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.
The project would create:
- An open walkway and park-like corridor from Winslow Way up to City Hall and Bainbridge Performing Arts, alongside the Bainbridge Historical Museum
- Two sustainably-designed buildings (one 4-story building, one 5-story building) for mixed business and residential use (with both units at market rate and as designated affordable housing rates)
- Parking and multi-modal transit options
- Subterranean parking of up to two levels below ground
- Pedestrian plazas
- A new Civic and Cultural Overlay zone
To build it, 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 greenspace)
- Reduce parking requirements, allowing developers to minimize surface parking, build out the greenspace/pedestrian corridors, and encourage multi-modal transportation usage for residents
In an interview with the Kitsap Sun after plans were 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 walkability 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).
At it’s heart, 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. It also invites, and looks forward to vigorous public discussion and debate around that proposal.
Why Are We Talking About This ?
(To be, or not to be, part of the Winslow Subarea Plan process, that is the question)
At the Feb. 14th regular business meeting, City Council members will discuss by what process the project should continue forward – to moves immediately through the existing planning process, or to be delayed until after the Winslow Subarea Plan and perhaps even after the Comprehensive Plan Update is complete. Effectively, that delay could be 2 years or more.
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.
Specifically, City Council Members will have two recommended motions in front of them 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
Summary: 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.
What’s The Issue?
Haggar Scribner Project Implications/Position: By definition of the city’s existing process, the project should continue to move forward. Holding it for the Winslow Subarea Plan and perhaps the Comprehensive Plan leaves it open to a murky future at best. Overall, 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
- If council votes to not intervene, and allow this project to move ahead in its existing process, it would continue to advance towards public engagement, concurrent with the city’s Winslow Subarea and Comprehensive Plan updates this and next year.
- If council votes to hold the project and projects like it in abeyance, it would be effectively sidelined until after the Winslow Subarea Plan, and likely the Comprehensive Plan Update, are complete which may not be until the end of 2024.
What Can You Do?
- Provide public comment at the beginning of tonight’s City Council meeting which begins at 6 pm
- Provide written comments to your City Council member.
- Find their contact details here (and know that writing to individual email addresses rather than the single shared one is more likely to get a personal response)
- Reach out and talk to the leaders of the Haggar Scribner project through Ron Allen
- Recommended 02/14/23 Motion at City Council (Includes more detail of parallel proceses) – City of Bainbridge Island
- Full 167 page Project Idea/Plans: Civic + Cultural Overlay – Haggar Scribner LLP
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)