Making way for a new Winslow corner

Chun Cho

The northwest corner of Winslow Way and the highway feeding downtown is about ready to undergo a dramatic change.

A development called Island Gateway is still awaiting building permits and a few other city-approved actions, but the city’s Planning Department has given the new owners of the property the green light.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, the existing structures and their businesses will be replaced by an art museum, a new home for the Kids Discovery Museum, five commercial buildings and an underground parking lot.

The corner has long been one of the island’s most hectic spots with nine concerns located in three buildings on the property. And a 10th, Windermere Real Estate, filled a street-front office before vacating last year.

The exodus has already begun with groundbreaking scheduled for Sept. 26 on the rear of the property previously leased by Diamond Parking, according to Andrew Lonseth, who is developing the property along with partners Bill Carruthers and Kelly Samson. It’s where KiDiMu will eventually find itself.

“We are working to help relocate each entity specifically,” Lonseth said. “It’s what time-frame works for them. Construction of KiDiMu will start later this fall, so there will be some dust vibration going on. But construction on the front building won’t begin until next year.”

Besides Diamond, which operated a 175-stall lot that was usually no more than half full, Gateway Towing soon will move its impound lot and tow service to Poulsbo. A representative of its parent company, Silverdale Towing, said they couldn’t find a location on the island.

Rosie’s Detail Shop, which existed in one of Gateway Towing’s vehicle bays, moved this week to 9463 Business Park Lane.

Moving to the front of the property, the two short-stay rooms that served as the Inn at Winslow Corner have been abandoned. And the Bank of America Home Loan office, which resided in the 1910 building that was the original Nakata family grocery store, has moved to the bank’s main office off Hildebrand Lane.

Loan officer David Boone said the business’s furniture has been given to the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce for when it moves to a new home. And Lonseth said the building will be given to the Nakatas, who will move it to their property on Weaver Road.

The Chamber of Commerce will probably be the last one to move since the process of relocating the State Department of Licensing office that shares its space will take as long as 90 days, said Executive Director Kevin Dwyer.

He said the Chamber has identified a few potential sites, but they have to be screened by the state so the process will be lengthy.

It’s also possible, Dwyer said, that the chamber will eventually relocate in one of Island Gateway’s commercial spaces.

Bargain Boutique, which has been selling second-hand items for Seattle’s Children’s Hospital in the same space for 30 years, is currently negotiating with owners of two places in the Winslow area. Manager Cynthia Van Buskirk said the move could happen in mid-October or be delayed until November.

“We’re still open though and we’ll let everyone know when we move,” Van Buskirk said. “It’s a tight space here so we’re looking for 500 more square feet. We need more working and storage space.”

Another long-time presence looking for a new home is Chun Cho, who since 1981 has operated Winslow Shoe Repair in a shoebox-sized space at the rear of the old Nakata building. He’s looking now and hopes to relocate in a couple of months.

“This has been good for me,” he said. “This very good town. A lot of people worried about me moving. But I be OK.”

Yes, his customers will find him wherever he goes since he’s the only shoe repairman in town. Hang a sign and they shall come.

“It’s important to us to help find a place that fits their needs,” Lonseth said. “With the construction starting soon, most of them want to move as soon as possible. But there will be some complications, so we’re fine with them moving when they can.”

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