Bainbridge 'gateway' could see major redesign | UPDATED
April 23, 2009 · Updated 4:07 PM
Driving off the ferry, one of the first impressions of Bainbridge Island is the northwest corner of Winslow Way and State Route 305.
This "gateway" into the island's downtown core currently features three office buildings, but there are plans now in the works that would give the corner a distinctively new look.
A development called Island Gateway is being proposed as a mixed cultural and commercial enterprise. It would be the second major development on Winslow Way since completion of "The Winslow" building on Ericksen Avenue.
Island Gateway draft plans, which were brought before the city's Design Review Board (DRB) this week, reveal a 75,000-square-foot development dispersed on a 5.2 acre property. It proposes to house an art museum, a new facility for the children’s discovery museum, KiDiMu, retail and office space and a 165-spot underground parking garage.
Cynthia Vaias, the director of KidiMu, confirmed that the new development might be an option for a relocation that has been in the works for some time, although nothing is final yet.
The project is being put forward by a group of developers and stakeholders who have formed Island Gateway LLC/Winslow Corner LLC.
Bill Carruthers, who brought forward the Vineyard Lane development, is involved with the project.
"I am absolutely convinced this project will enhance and represent the strong cultural elements of our community and the strong artistic component of Bainbridge Island," Carruthers said.
Preliminary architectural plans for Island Gateway were drawn up by Bainbridge's Coates Design, which recently received acclaim for its work on the island's first Platinum LEED home.
According to Matthew Coates, the development is aiming to achieve a LEED Gold standards and will address storm water management and aquifer recharge issues.
"It's important to note the site, as is, is 95 percent impervious surface," Coates said. "We are striving for a dramatic, 80 percent reduction in impervious surfaces, reducing stormwater runoff and improving the quality of that runoff."
A prominent "living wall" that supports vertical plant growth would also be part of the development.
However, the designs have not appealed to everyone. On Monday, some members of the DRB criticized the uniform office space structures located in the center of the development.
"There were elements that didn't suit their guidelines, but what came out of that is quite a benefit for us," Carruthers said. "We've made some decisions with the architects, the experience has enhanced the project."
A modified design of the office space structures will be presented to the Design Review Board next Monday, April 27.
Carruthers believes construction will begin this year. The first stage will focus on infrastructure, the underground parking lot and both museum buildings.
The developers are also looking to salvage the historic building currently being leased by Countrywide Home Loans. The office originally housed the Eagle Harbor Market – the precursor to downtown's Town and Country.
Talks between the developers and the Nakata family indicate the building will likely be relocated to the original Nakata family property on Wyatt Way and Weaver Road.
With its attention to cultural, environmental and historical detail, proponents of the project feel its a positive anchor for downtown.
"There could be a multitude of different developments that could be placed on that prominent street corner," Coates said. "This creative building goes a long way to underscore the value of this project to the community and the community to the project."
The following draft plans are for preliminary design. Coates Design will provide revised plans next week to the city's Design Review Board.