"Homes from a hometown guyIsland developers care enough to do a good job, Doug Nelson says."
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:49 PM
"Island developers get a bad rap as outsiders who are here to maximize their profits at the expense of the locals, then leave town before the consequences of their actions become apparent, Doug Nelson says.Nelson is, among other things, a developer. He's also an island native. And he defends not only his own work, but that of this colleagues.People who are developing here care enough to do a good job, he said. I don't think Bainbridge will look like Bellevue.Nelson's own construction company is now building 47 homes in the first phase of the Sakai Village project on Madison Avenue, across from Ordway Elementary School and the LDS church.The three-story duplex and triplex homes will each have about 1,800 square feet. Most will be three bedrooms, and all will have a fireplace, two and a half baths, a bonus room and space for an office. Prices will begin at around $295,000. The planned second phase, to the south, will triple the size to a total of 141 units. The target market is active seniors, empty nesters and working professionals, Nelson said.The area being developed is the flat field portion of the property -- the old Sakai strawberry fields. The wooded areas to the north and east will remain unchanged, except for a network of bark-covered trails being constructed through the trees.We own about 600 feet of property to the north, and maybe 700 feet to the east, of where any building will go, he said. Those areas will remain as open space.The first phase of the Sakai Village project was originally going to be a development called Madison Glen, that Kelly Samson owned.But the city wanted the two adjoining developments to share an entryway, and there would have been a considerable duplication of amenities.Kelly and I got together and talked, and we said one of us needs to buy out the other, Nelson said. So Nelson bought Samson's interest.It was originally permitted for 52 homes, Nelson said. But we redesigned it, cut down a little on the number of homes, and cut way back on the number of buildings so we can have more open space.Nelson said he expects initial occupancy by the mid-August, with final completion depending upon the pace of sales.Nelson did not set out to be a developer. After graduating from Bainbridge High School in 1988, he got a degree in recreation from Western Washington University.My plan was to start a business to provide recreation programs to small companies, he said, but I graduated during a recession, and the first thing companies cut was their budget for things like that.So I was living at home with my parents, and they said, 'Why don't you get your real estate license?'He did, and became a top producer with John L. Scott. In 1996, he bought the island's Re/Max franchise. He also started the Stetson Ridge development off Bucklin Hill Road that year.He became a controversial figure when he bought a 10-acre parcel on Ferncliff Avenue, and proposed a development he called Woodland Village. Vehemently opposed by neighbors, the development didn't see ultimate approval until this year, when opponents dropped further appeal of a court decision in Nelson's favor.Clearing and infrastructure work is taking place on that property, and Nelson hopes construction can begin by mid-summer.Woodland Village will feature detached homes averaging about 2,200 square feet, Nelson said. A distinctive feature will be a homeowners' association that will take care of the lawns and gardens.I think it will be attractive to a lot of part-time residents, who spend summers here and winters someplace else, but who want to know their property is well cared for, he said.Despite his successes, Nelson said Woodland and Sakai may be his last ventures on Bainbridge.There is so much hostility to any kind of growth, he said. Let somebody else be the bad guy.Somebody will build houses here. We are not advertising off island. People are finding Bainbridge on their own. "