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Tight schedule, tight site

A workman sprays “shotcrete” on a form, giving shape to an underground parking garage. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
A workman sprays “shotcrete” on a form, giving shape to an underground parking garage.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

With a boost from the weather and a relatively new construction method, crews are making up for lost time on the Winslow, the mixed-use project with the truncated name on the corner of Winslow Way and Ericksen Avenue.

“We’re digging a pretty darn big hole,” said Ed Rice of MRJ Construction, which has moved some 10,000 cubic yards of dirt in the month that work has been under way. “It’s a tight schedule and a tight site, but we’ve been lucky with the weather – only one day of rain.”

If it doesn’t pour in the next couple of days – a polite rain is okay – crews can finish the heavy earth-moving portion of the project, which is the last weather-sensitive element.

From then on, crews will be busy in foul weather and fair, hoping to meet a completion date at the end of October 2003.

“We’re almost at the point the site is stable,” Rice said. “Most of the dirt is gone, so we won’t be dragging mud out onto the streets.”

Principals had hoped to break ground on the project a year ago, but the city permitting process took longer than anticipated.

MRJ is speeding up the work by using so-called “shotcrete” for the vertical walls of the two-story underground parking structure.

Instead of building a two-sided wood frame and filling that with concrete, crews build one frame, add a lattice of reinforcing bars and then “shoot” a pressurized concrete slurry onto the surface.

The concrete sticks and is smoothed, then dries in place.

“We can go twice as fast this way, since we only have to build one frame,” Rice said.

The parking structure is being done in sections – south part first, then north. The tentative schedule calls for completion of the parking structure by the end of January, at which point framing will begin. From April on, work will be indoors.

“We should start doing tenant improvements in the summer, and occupy by the end of October,” said co-owner Jim Magnano.

New condo$

The development will consist of eight condominiums, from 1,300 to 2,000 square feet in size, plus 10,500 square feet of office space and 6,700 square feet of retail space.

The condominiums, all but one of which will be one story, will sell for $355,000 to $620,000, according to Jackie Syvertsen of Bainbridge Island’s Windermere Real Estate.

The units will have large bay windows, high ceilings and high-end finishes, architect Charles Wenzlau said. Two penthouse units will have large decks.

The offices, which will be on the ground and second floors, will be oriented towards a central courtyard, said Jerry Knipe of the Sunrise Group, which is handling the commercial leasing. There will also be 6,700 square feet of retail space, in chunks as small as 800 square feet and as large as 3,100.

“We’re going to be a little picky,” Knipe said. “We’ll have a restaurant if we can get the right restaurant, but if not, there won’t be one.”

In addition to a central landscaped plaza, there will be what Wenzlau calls a “corner plaza” at the main entryway on Ericksen and Winslow, which he hopes will become a downtown hub.

The property has been vacant for almost two years, since the old restaurant building – once known as the Martinique, and most recently Doogal’s – was demolished in 2000.

Originally built just after World War II, the restaurant has belonged to the Magnano family almost since the beginning.

“We bought it in the ‘50s, and remodeled it a couple of times,” Marco Magnano said. “I remember when I was a kid going to school at St. Cecilia’s then walking down here for breakfast.”

The Magnano brothers take pride in the fact that the project is being done almost exclusively by islanders.

“Look at the signs on the fence,” Jim Magnano said. “A local bank is financing it, a local architect designed it, and local people are building it.”

Even though the development will come on line during a down economy, and at a time of considerable development, the principals believe the project will succeed.

“These are the first residential condominiums on Winslow Way since the Winslow Green,” project manager Bror Elmquist said.

“And it’s where people like to shop. I think this will lend more support for downtown development.”

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