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Pub expansion upsets neighbors

A computer-generated image by architect William J. Chester shows the proposed pub expansion next to the current establishment (to its right), as seen from the condominium grounds to the northwest. - Courtesy of Department of Planning and Community Development
A computer-generated image by architect William J. Chester shows the proposed pub expansion next to the current establishment (to its right), as seen from the condominium grounds to the northwest.
— image credit: Courtesy of Department of Planning and Community Development

Condo dwellers turn out to oppose plans for a larger establishment.

Everybody loves “the Pub.”

Unless, it seems, they live next door to it.

Neighbors’ discontent with the popular eatery and watering hole flowed as freely as happy-hour ale Thursday evening, at a three-and-a-half-hour hearing on a proposed expansion of the waterfront establishment.

Residents of adjacent condominiums – most of them built, ironically, by a group that included the pub’s owners a decade ago – complained of loud noise, drunkenness and parking problems associated with the establishment. Most of those who testified opposed the expansion, while several called for restrictions on its operation.

“I’m sorry to say it, but we do not consider them good neighbors, with no interest beyond their own,” said Dick Daniel, a resident of Harbourside Condo­miniums next door.

Jocelyn and Jeff Waite have submitted applications to build a 50-60-seat, adults-only bar immediately east of the Harbour Public House – known colloquially as “the Pub” – at 231 Parfitt Way.

The new structure would be an adults-only venue, as the current Pub is now, and the current establishment would become a restaurant open to all ages.

The project would also include a redesign and expansion of the venue’s kitchen.

The expansion was prompted by “a need to grow, and to appeal to a wider variety of locals,” said Jocelyn Waite, whose English father Jim Evans opened the Pub in 1991 as the first non-smoking tavern in the Seattle area.

Evans and his wife now reside in Seattle, and the Waites manage the establishment with an ownership interest.

Working with island architect William J. Chester, the couple plans to use recycled wood on the addition to replicate the weathered, “historical feel” of the current structure, which was Jocelyn Waite’s family home before it became the Pub.

Built in 1881 by homesteaders Amanda and Ambrose Grow, what is now the Harbour House has already undergone extensive renovations. The original construction included inside walls made of clear tongue-and-groove Douglas Fir from first-growth trees milled at Port Blakely.

The Waites hope to break ground on the project in the fall of 2005.

“It’s a big project, but it needs to be done,” Jocelyn said. “We’ve worked that kitchen seven days a week for 14 years.”

The new structure would be about 2,000 square feet and “two feet taller than the existing Pub, and 10 feet shorter than the building next door,” the Moorings at Wharfside, Jeff Waite said.

“We are not asking for anything outside of what the city has already allowed,” he said. “It’s a viable project with a lot of public support. We don’t want to upset our neighbors; after all, many of them are our customers.”

Most of the opposition to the project comes from the Harbourside Condominiums, a four-building, 20-unit project developed by a five-partner group that included Jim Evans.

Thursday, numerous residents of that project said they bought into the condos because the developers marketed the excellence of the views of Eagle Harbor – views they said would be blocked by the restaurant expansion.

While Jocelyn Waite told the Planning Commission that the project would enhance public views, neighbors scoffed.

“You’d have to go in there and pay to have something to eat or drink to enjoy this so-called ‘enhanced’ view,” one said.

Attorney Dennis Reynolds, representing the applicants, argued that case law prevents the city from imposing any height limitations to protect neighbors’ views, beyond what is prescribed in the city code.

Much of the comment revolved around the current operation. Neighbors complained of late-night revelry on the outdoor deck – “raucous behavior, obscene language and merry-making drunks,” in the words of one hearing-goer – and the clatter of delivery trucks as early as 4:30 a.m.

Several accused the managers of playing a “shell game” with parking, and said the current lot is inadequate for customers and emergency access. Problems would get worse, they said, with a larger, “high volume” eatery.

“I envision Friday night barn dances with keg beer and 300 people,” neighbor Dave McKenzie said.

Ron McKinstry struck a rare conciliatory tone, saying, “It’s a fine facility and well-run, but it’s as big as it should get.”

After the meeting, Jeff Waite defended the Pub’s operation.

“We’re in a commercial district – it’s bound to be noisier,” Waite said. “The pub was in operation long before any of the (condo) units were sold. I know for a fact that none of the values of their properties have gone down, becaues I watch their sales.”

The fate of the project’s site plan will be decided by city Planning Director Larry Frazier, after a recommendation by the Planning Commission early next month.

The commission will take written comment for another two weeks. Several questioned whether, under the terms of the original development, the expansion application was valid without the support of condominium association members.

“It will be a miracle if this doesn’t wind up in court somehow, from what I can tell,” Commissioner Abra Bennett said.

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