PORT TOWNSEND — The Fort Worden Public Development Authority board unanimously approved Wednesday a $2 million bond through Kitsap Bank to build glamping facilities.
The glamping project — creating luxury camping sites at Fort Worden — has been in development since 2015. It has been slowed by funding, snowstorms and spring holidays in 2019.
The bond approved Wednesday will mark the beginning of construction in earnest. Nordland Construction won the bid to build the camps.
After construction starts, the project should take about 128 days to complete, said David Beckman, director of capitol projects. Beckman said the plan was to begin construction in earnest in September. He expects a March 15 soft opening.
The funds used to pay the bond back after construction will come from the revenue from the glamping sites, said Diane Moody, chief financial officer.
The PDA already has a $1.5 million bond through Kitsap Bank; the new bond will be in addition to the current account.
The PDA will begin paying interest on the bonds when they are receiving 25 percent more in revenue over the $3.5 million total debt and will not be charged the payments until 11 months after the money is spent, Moody said.
Board members hope to pay back the bonds early, possibly within five years, since they anticipate the glamping sites to be extremely popular and there are no fees for early payments, Moody continued.
Kitsap Bank will fund the bond internally versus contracting it to a third-party. Paperwork is expected to be finalized by Friday, Moody said.
The sites that have been designated for the 18 glamping tents and facility building will be marked and partially fenced off by a construction fence in some areas as of Monday, but it shouldn’t hamper guest access to trails and the park, according to David Beckman, director of capitol projects.
The fencing and rope is to make it easier to keep guests clear of the work sites, he said.
Said Moody: “The glamping project should be pretty safe, except for the noise.”
In preparation for the project, the PDA hired a facility lead to organize the workload, Beckman said.
The PDA also is seeking a lead carpenter to assist with construction of the new glamping sites, as well as with other projects that Fort Worden will need. The carpenter position already exists and is classified as a vacancy within the current budget, so additional funding is not needed, Beckman said.
“We haven’t had many applicants, but the ones we have are strong,” he said.
Some are from in house, he added, saying that the position is expected to be filled by the end of the month.”
According to preliminary plans in 2015, the sites will cost between $127 and $279 a night, depending on the size and type of the specific glamping site.
In comparison, the cost of present campsites at Fort Worden starts at $25 each night for the upper forest campground and at $35 per night for the beach campground, according to the Washington State Park Reservation system.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].