Port Townsend merchants get first peek at data effort

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Merchants have taken their first look at a historical database intended to provide a detailed view of downtown and uptown buildings.

“We want to get every bit of data we can and build this into a valuable resource,” said Main Street board President Heather Dudley Nollette during a presentation to about 30 people Tuesday night.

“We want to get it launched and grow from there.”

Dudley Nollette said the site, projected to go live in January, will provide immediate information about businesses and buildings in the historical downtown and uptown commercial areas.

The site will have value to different groups: The public can use it to find business categories for shopping purposes, while those who are looking to start a business in town can scope out the potential competition, she said.

“We will provide information about what businesses are here, what is for sale and what is for rent,” Dudley Nollette said.

“So anyone who is looking to relocate here will get an idea of the existing commercial mix.”

Dudley Nollette encouraged building and business owners to establish membership on the site to allow them to update their business and building information,

Web developer Frank DePalma, who designed the site, said it will resemble a standard Google map with the ability to roll over the aerial shot of a building and call up the details about what’s inside.

This can include the building’s year of construction, the original use, who owns the building, whether there are any empty spaces and the square footage.

While individual rents will not be posted, the database will include the average rents for the neighborhood, he said.

“Our hope is that people will get into this and start using it right away so we can build a framework and start working together,” Dudley Nollette said.

“We will rely on business and property owners to keep the information current.”

Dudley Nollette said the project has been under development for two years and originally included businesses outside of the historical shopping districts.

That project proved too daunting, so it was decided to narrow the focus to only include downtown and uptown.

She said the inclusion of businesses outside of these boundaries — those on Upper Sims Way — could occur in the future.

“We decided this was the best place to start,” she said.

“As soon as we see the tool is working well enough, we can include other areas.”

Another reason for the narrow focus is that development costs are provided by Main Street, which is oriented toward historical preservation, according to Main Street Executive Director Mari Mullen.

The site will be accessible through a link on the Main Street website, www.ptmainstreet.org, with a direct link yet to be determined.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 04. 2013 7:42PM
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