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Sequim to examine `urban village' without civic center

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM -- It sounds like a city within a town: an ``urban village'' with 548 housing units, a central plaza, miniature parks and 239,000 square feet of retail shops and offices including a grocery store.

That's developer Jerry Hann's vision for Bell Creek Village, a 76-acre development to be discussed today during the Sequim Planning Commission's 6 p.m. meeting in the Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

But a major part of Hann's village vision appears to be falling through.

The civic center concept, which burst into Sequim's consciousness last February when Hann offered the city some 25 acres of village land for $1, was a ``great idea that just didn't work,'' said Sequim City Manager Bill Elliott.

``The chances,'' he said, ``don't look real good'' for locating a new City Hall in the proposed village, which would be built east of Sequim Avenue and just north of U.S. Highway 101.

A committee of City Council members and planners spent months mulling where to build a 20,000- to 24,000-square-foot structure to house this growing municipality's staff.

The panel settled on the existing City Hall site on West Cedar Street as the best option, Sequim capital projects manager Frank Needham said Monday.

It already has things like roads and utility connections -- which the city would have had to construct had it gone the Bell Creek Village route.

``There was too much of a gap,'' between costs of the two sites, said Needham.

Nov. 13 recommendation

He'll officially recommend building the new structure on the city's Cedar Street site during the Nov. 13 City Council meeting.

If the council agrees with the recommendation, it will in effect nix the civic center plan.

And as it turns out, other would-be civic center tenants aren't so interested in Bell Creek Village either.

Last spring, the Sequim Senior Center, public library, Museum & Arts Center, Peninsula College and Sequim Open Aire Market officials expressed interest in joining the civic center planning.

But the Senior Center and MAC pulled out. Neither liked the idea of being part of a large building over which they would have little control.

Then the college fell away, Needham said.

It would have shared space with the city, since the school ``sees no advantage to building its own campus there.''

And the May-to-October Open Aire Market will stay on Cedar Street, said board member Tim Grady.

That civic center concept ``looks pretty dead to me,'' Grady said Monday.

Not a `deal breaker'

Hann, however, mourns no losses. The city's pending pullout is ``not a deal breaker,'' he said.

``I understand that it's a lot less expensive'' for the city to stay on its land. Hann added.

He said he's happy to put the 25 acres of no-longer-civic-center land back on the market.

Hann said Bell Creek Village, if ultimately approved by the City Council, will set a new standard for pedestrian-friendliness -- and night life.



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