May 2009

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

Dear Winslow: You talk tough about our “agreement,” about the social contract that has allowed our two cities to co-exist together in peace. But, here you go again stomping on our turf. What’s this I hear about a brothel on Bainbridge Island? Come on! Callow’s supposed to have the market corned on the turning of tricks, and we stay out of the wine and cheese business. (Oops, I guess the Kitsap Wine Festival should be on Bainbridge. I’ll give you that. Gladly.)

You’ve had a brothel on the island? And your men are paying to have sex with our women? Oooooooh, Winslow, don’t tell me Bremerton’s not rubbing off on you. We’re rubbing off, and you’re obviously rubbing one out.

I’ll close this letter with a few words from one of your own.

“We’re an upscale community and I think we have a sort of upscale self-image,” Iver McDougal, president of the South Bainbridge Neighborhood Association.

Upscale self-image? That’s putting it lightly, friend.

The Bremelogger

Cary Bozeman, second from right, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Bremerton's Anthony's.

Cary Bozeman, second from right, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Bremerton's Anthony's.

As I mentioned yesterday, I sat down with Cary Bozeman about a month before he announced he would not seek re-election and was stepping down as mayor. Here’s more from our conversation:

What can the city do to fill up these empty storefronts?

You got 10,000 people that live a block from here, right? Why aren’t they coming downtown and shopping in these places, right? A. There’s currently not a product they’re interested in. Except, they go to Anthony’s. B. The downtown’s been pretty unattractive as a place to go. So, you’ve gotta have something that’s gonna appeal to them.

What we can do is bring more people living here so there’s more people dynamically on the street. The retailer’s not going to attract the bodies. The bodies gotta be there.

The retail comes last. It always does. It follows people. It’ll be the last thing to work here. Even Anthony’s, perfect location, 10,000 people at the shipyard, beautiful restaurant, even they, on occasion, they struggle. The retail will be the last to work. This hotel will help. Getting people living down here, going to hotels down here, working down here, that will all eventually help support I think a quality retail space.

You talk about bringing people downtown: Did the housing authority overshoot with the condos in not making it something more affordable?

Yes. Chris, to answer your question, they missed it. They built too far above the market. Their initial sales interest looked encouraging. They really felt like they were OK, the county backed the bonds on it, and in the end, they misjudged. I think had they built a nice project but a little less expensive, they’d have all sold.

Those condos aside, what’s next for bringing people to live downtown?

Penny’s is our next big project. We need quality, affordable, rentable spaces for people who want to live and work downtown. For artists. Part of our strategy downtown is it becomes more of an art community. Ron Sher’s bought the building. The plan is to build four floors of apartments above the Penny’s building, and he’ll put a grocery store in and put retail in. He’s looking for a partner at the moment to do the apartments.

The retailer that we’re looking to attract is a multiplex theater. We’re close. We think that attracts people downtown for retailers. We’ve got a multiplex operator we think will come in. None of this is gonna happen until the economy turns around a little bit.

What kinds of retailers does downtown need as a catalyst?

We haven’t quite gotten the number of shoes on the street yet to support a lot of marginal retailers. If you’re just another Mexican restaurant that somebody can drive to out here in the mall, forget it. It ain’t gonna work. Retail today will only work if it’s special, if it’s quality, and you can’t hardly get it anywhere else. Everything we’re doing here hopefully will support retailers. Not marginal retailers in a market where there’s not enough people. That won’t work.

You think downtown Bremerton has too many marginal retailers?

I have no idea, I’m not a retail expert. I’m just saying any place, not just downtown Bremerton. Retail always comes last. People get impatient. The retail will be the last thing to work in downtown Bremerton. We’ve gotta bring people to live and to work downtown.

This is about lifestyle, living. This is a neighborhood now. That’s the future of these kinds of cities anymore, they’re lifestyle centers. It’s the densest neighborhood in the city, or will be.

10 years from now, 15 years from now, this is gonna be a great place to be, downtown Bremerton. Absolutely no doubt about it.

— Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Chris Kornelis

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

We’re gonna go ahead and call in surprised on this one. Today Cary Bozeman announced that he will step down as mayor next month to take over as CEO of the Port of Bremerton. Last month I sat down with Mayor Bozeman to talk about Bremerton and his re-election bid against challenger Mike Shepherd. Here’s a brief excerpt from our conversation:

Why four more years?

I love my job. I’ve been in public service for 35 years. You like to write? I like to have the opportunity to create a better world for people.  It’s what gets me up in the morning. It’s what makes my life feel purposeful. If I don’t get re-elected I’ll go find something else to do in the public sector. I don’t believe in retirement.

What’s your vision for the next four years?

It’s keeping a steady course during a difficult time. Without a vibrant downtown, the perception of your community is that you’re not a very good investment. Have you driven through Aberdeen lately? Or Have you driven through Hoquiam? If you drive through their downtowns and you’re an investor and you’re looking for an opportunity to maybe make some money by investing in a development or something like that, you’re not going to do it. Because you’re going to say, “Look at this? These people can’t even manage their own downtown.”


All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev.

Dear Old Man Winslow: I think I found merit in a point or two in your most recent dictation (I can’t imagine you use a computer). Bozeman did get people talking/thinking/joking about Bremerton again with his critique of Seattle. And just in the nick of time. Did you happen to notice that, um, there’s an election coming up? And while the yard sign poll shows challenger Mike Sheppard with an overwhelming lead, only one candidate for the position has had their face plastered to the front of the Seattle Times sticking up for Bremerton.

Sure, he didn’t ACTUALLY stick up for Bremerton, he just pushed Seattle around a bit. (And apparently, he’s not the only one thinking that way.) But in a way, throwing a little mud from a city’s that’s been douched in far worse for far too long, makes it feel like he’s not only proud to be Bremerton’s mayor, he thinks we have something that’s worth shouting about. Election sewn up? I wouldn’t say so, but shit, I’m trying to sell “papers.” And as far as I’m concerned, this is going to be a nail-biter down to November 3.

Speaking of which, our “editor” sat down with Bozeman several weeks ago and has been too hopped up on Robitussin to transcribe the events of the sit-down. I chatted with the purple-lipped bastard the other morning and he assured me that he’d have something up by Wednesday. Look for it by next weekend (but don’t hold your breath).


The Bremelogger

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev

All illustrations by Jessica Randklev

Dear The Bremelogger: I’m rubbing off on you? I’m am so happy to report that I cannot say the same about you. Though, I’m sure that in the pitiful state in which you keep yourself, you leave  a residue wherever you lay your crusty little fingers.

And where have you infected of late, Logger? I have to say that I was getting a little … I won’t say worried, because responding to your painful missives isn’t a task I’d wish upon a California transplant with a 780 prefix. But considering all the ripe material you’ve had to snark on recently, I was beginning to suspect that you’d gone “underground.” You and your regional brood have much to hang your head over every day of the month. So why you didn’t come out gloating after your mayor laid the — what do the kids at North Kitsap High School say? — “smack down” on Seattle and it’s “insult to American ingenuity”?

I wouldn’t have known anything about this amusing skirmish had The Seattle Times not picked up what was apparently first reported in the Bremerton Sun. Sorry, I keep forgetting, KITSAP SUN. And that brings up something the boys were talking about at Eagle Harbor Books last week.

Seattle may have soiled Pioneer Square and squandered their waterfront, but they didn’t leave reduce their city to something so repulsive that their newspaper of record, embarrassed by the association, changed their name to King Times. Not that I blame their overlords in the Midwest. I wouldn’t want to be associated with Bremerton, either.