More discussion planned on proposed five-story development in downtown Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles City Council has delayed a decision to declare as surplus a downtown parking lot for a proposed five story-development with a parking garage.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend a public hearing on the proposed surplus of the lot south of Front Street and west of Oak Street to the council’s next meeting March 5.

The continued hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. or shortly thereafter in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.

Representatives of the Port Angeles Downtown Association (PADA) testified Tuesday that the recent snowstorms canceled a meeting and prevented the full membership from weighing in on Eric Dupar’s proposed development at 222 W. Front St.

Association member Beth Witters listed several concerns raised by downtown merchants, including parking impacts and the right of first refusal that the city granted to Dupar in 2014 to purchase the property he has leased since 1998.

“I wanted to say that the PADA supports development downtown,” Witters said before she and others listed a series of questions and concerns.

“We’re very excited about the possibilities, but there are some questions that our members have had and we’ve not had a chance to talk with other downtown businesses.”

Given the weather that prevented PADA members from meeting, City Council member Cherie Kidd suggested tabling the decision to declare the property as surplus.

“I think it’s important that we cooperate and collaborate with our downtown association,” Kidd said.

“I’m excited about our new project, but we have a longstanding history of working together with the downtown association.”

Mayor Sissi Bruch asked Dupar whether a two-week delay would hinder his project.

“I don’t believe so, no,” Dupar said. “And I think everybody should be heard.”

Two weeks ago, a unanimous City Council voted to direct staff to appraise the Front Street property, initiate a process to declare it surplus and negotiate with Dupar a “term sheet providing framework for transfer of the property, mitigation for loss of parking, permitting, utilities and assurance that the construction would be completed in a timely manner,” according to the approved motion.

Dupar has said he plans to purchase the property and build a 326-stall parking structure with 62 to 72 condominiums and/or apartments with a seafood restaurant on the ground floor.

Parking spaces would be underground and in an multi-level garage west of the housing units.

The existing parking lot has 126 stalls.

The city-owned lot is leased to Tine Construction Services, LLC., a business operated by Dupar, City Manager Nathan West said in a memo to the council.

“As indicated in the memo, one of the primary factors incorporated with this agreement would be a no-net loss of parking to the downtown,” West said at the Tuesday meeting.

The estimated $22 million development is directly across Front Street from the future site of the Port Angeles Waterfront Center and a block-and-a-half from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s future waterfront hotel.

Dupar would be required to obtain a conditional use permit in a public process before building the proposed 67-foot-tall structure. The height limit in the downtown area is 45 feet under city code.

Dupar has said he hopes to break ground later this year and complete construction in about 18 months.

“We’re trying to move forward as quickly as we can,” Dupar told the City Council on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to accommodate the parking so that there isn’t a loss of parking. There can’t be. In fact, there should be more. That’s how I look at it.”

In 1999, Dupar built the downtown building at 201 W. First St., that houses the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

City Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, who expressed support for Dupar’s development, suggested that the council have a broader conversation about parking issues downtown.

“It’s important that we have this conversation, and we need to to have it with the whole community and not just pretend like parking’s not an issue or pretend like we’re dealing with it adequately as a community,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

He added: “I would totally support moving forward with this [Dupar’s project] as quickly as possible, because I think it’s a good development for downtown.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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