Developer submits application for new shopping center on High School Road

A landscape plan for the proposed shopping center shows areas of the existing forest that will be preserved, as well as areas that include ornamental and other landscaping features. - Image courtesy of the city of Bainbridge Island
A landscape plan for the proposed shopping center shows areas of the existing forest that will be preserved, as well as areas that include ornamental and other landscaping features.
— image credit: Image courtesy of the city of Bainbridge Island

The developer that wants to build a new shopping center on High School Road has submitted a development application to the city of Bainbridge Island and has asked for meetings with city officials to go over the preliminary plans.

Visconsi Companies is hoping to construct seven new buildings — mostly retail — on roughly 8 acres near the corner of Highway 305 and NE High School Road.

Charles Wenzlau of Wenzlau Architects, a Bainbridge Island firm, submitted the development proposal on May 17 on behalf of Visconsi Companies.

The development company, based in Pepper Pike, Ohio, builds community shopping centers and has completed more than 80 projects across the country that include Walgreens drug store locations.

A pre-application conference with city of Bainbridge Island planning staff has been suggested for Tuesday, June 5.

Another meeting with the city's Design Review Board has been requested for Monday, June 18.

The shopping center will have seven commercial buildings totaling 53,345 square feet on five parcels that total 8.16 acres, plus 266 parking spaces to serve the development.

Approximately 66 percent of the site would be covered by impervious surfaces — typically streets, structures, sidewalks and other areas that limit the infiltration of rainwater — according to documents submitted by the developer. Paved surfaces total 188,525 square feet.

A 50-foot landscaped buffer would be maintained along Highway 305, and significant trees would be retained within the perimeter buffers and the buffer along a critical area on the property. The critical area is a buffer for a wetland that sits on vacant land east of the project.

The proposed setbacks vary on the property, from 150 feet on the north, to 95 feet on the east, to 10 feet to the south, and between 60 feet to 130 feet on the west property line.

Documents also indicate that the project will result in clearing on the site that involves more that six "significant" trees or 2,500 square feet of ground. Excavating or filling on the land will involve more than 100 cubic yards of material.

The developer of the project did not submit information on possible phasing of the project.

According to Wenzlau's letter that accompanied design guidelines, a zoning summary and a set of plans, the concept for the development was based on four goals:

"Create a central outdoor space which becomes the focal point for the project;

Create an inviting streetscape like Winslow Way with on-street parking, buildings set close to the street, public plazas, with the parking placed behind the buildings;

Create rural imagery for the architecture;

Create an inviting view from the road as viewed from the project frontage."

"The project presents the opportunity to establish pedestrian-scaled uses in what might otherwise become an auto-dominated context," Charles Wenzlau said in the letter.

He noted the zoning designation for the project was intended to serve auto-oriented commercial uses, but that the new development would more closely mimic the feel of downtown.

"This [zoning] is in contrast to downtown Winslow, where the zoning is based more strongly on a mixed-use concept, where pedestrian activity is supported by higher densities. In spite of the low-density zoning, the project is laid out to encourage walking and to create public outdoor spaces as the focus for the site. Furthermore, because the site is surrounded by established uses, the plan is based on part on providing pedestrian connections between these uses."

The application letter said specific tenants were not now known, but potential uses might include a bank, a drug store, and retail and medical tenants.

The letter later mentions, however, a Bartell Drugs store as part of the development.

According to documents submitted last week, the buildings would be one- to two-stories high, with pitched floors and covered walkways.

Buildings will vary in size from 3,300 square feet to 15,645 square feet.

"The architecture is meant to evoke a rural theme, with simple forms, pitched roofs and exposed structure features. Building materials may include horizontal-vertical siding, metal roofs, vertical window proportions and trim bands to maintain a rural utilitarian spirit," according to the project description submitted by Wenzlau Architects.

Wenzlau Architects said pedestrian paths will allow for connections to Highway 305, Kitsap Bank, Stonecrest and a potential future trail system around the wetland to adjacent residential neighborhoods.

"The main retail area will have generous plazas and courtyard passageways linking the parking at the rear to the building entrances facing the main street."

The developer has not yet submitted an environmental checklist on the project.

The checklist, a requirement of the State Environmental Policy Act, will include the applicant's assessment of possible impacts to air, ground and water resources, as well as an early estimate of potential traffic impacts.

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