Windermere Real Estate/BI, Inc.
A little over a week ago the sale of the formerly abandoned “Blossom Hill” project closed escrow and changed hands to new owner John Jacobi, founder of Windermere Real Estate. Work is set to begin in less than two weeks on what is now being called “Pleasant Beach Village,” however, when I was down at the site this past week, a small landscape crew was already clearing out the site to make way for the of the reboot of the construction.
Jacobi, is partnering with family, Tad Fairbank of Fairbank Construction Co., and Jim Laws, owner and broker of the Windermere Bainbridge Office. Fairbank Construction will complete the project and architect Charlie Wenzlau will continue to be in charge of aesthetics.
Jacobi purchased the 16.5 acre site for less than 10 million dollars from Whidbey Bank, the original project’s owner. The project had two deeds with debt of over 27 million dollars.
The strip above is about three-fourths complete and will be a mixed use building with commercial on the street-front level and either apartments or condos above. Later, there is potential to build eighty homes on the hillside and renovate an existing historic building (formerly Edna’s Beach Cafe) perched above to potentially again be a restaurant or event venue.
Local reaction is enthusiastic, especially on the south end of the island and especially for the business owners right across the street. Businesses like Treehouse Cafe and the Lynwood Theatre have endured the eye sore since 2009. I know as a Realtor, when down on the south end clients always asked “what’s that?” I would cringe and then explain. It did not look good physically or economically for the island. Now, with Jacobi taking the reins, I must say, the reaction of island newcomers is very different. Two of my sales this summer have been on the south end, both to new islanders, both very excited about the new village just walking and biking distance from their homes.
This has been a busy summer in my work world. There have not been a lot of days to play. Luckily, this weekend, the clouds parted, work slowed down a bit and the sun came out. Even more luckily, I had booked a trip a few weeks back out to Seabrook on the Washington Coast. Seabrook is about three and a half hours from Bainbridge Island. If you have not seen or heard about it in Coastal Living or elsewhere follow the link and enjoy their site (after you read this;). After driving through the sparsley populated towns of the Washington Coast, the pristine town of Seabrook looks a little bit like it just mysteriously sprang up from the cliffs overnight.
Seabrook is builder, Casey Roloff’s vision of the ultimate beach town on the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. Using the design principal of New Urbanism, Roloff intended to bring quality, charm and community to the Oregon and Washington Coasts. Roloff started in Oregon with Bella Beach in 2002 and in 2004 broke ground on Searbook on an almost forgotten bluff just south of Pacific Beach. Today, at Seabrook, over 200 homes have been sold, (eleven this past July) through some of the toughest years in real estate. Other builders take note – Roloff’s vision has proven itself recession proof.
The houses and cottages are new, quaint, and cheerful. The colors are refreshing, the bikes (cruisers), parks, shops and restaurant are all you need to spend a weekend away from the regular routine. On the third day in I realized we had not driven our car all weekend. For someone whose office is basically the car, kinda nice. We rode bikes to the market, walked to the beach. It was all close and easy. Believe me, if my eight year old did not complain, it was pretty short and easy. This is the same girl who complained in Hawaii when we had to walk from the hotel – along the beach – to The Cheescake Factory for dinner. First World Problems. And, something I did not do until I was like 26. Anyway, it was an easy walk.
When we arrived the fog was in, it was not sunny. Now, that was a little disappointing because it was sunny when we left Bainbridge. After we checked in I was asking around if the sun had been out earlier that day, and I just got a chuckled no, like, ‘sun, really lady, you are on the Washington Coast.’ A little dejected, my husband and I wondered if leaving the rare 80 degree Bainbridge was such a good idea. Well, lucky us. We awoke on Saturday to glorious sun. Not sun that comes out after lunch, sun that was out before I was up at 7am. The day unfolded stunningly. Seabrook was charming in the fog, but in the sun, it is just crazy cute. Our first night we literally could not see the coast while we were standing on the beach. We were wrapped in a blanket of fog. But on this lucky Saturday the coastline shimmered and stretched on and on. Magnificent.
Yes, AT&T cell reception sucks out on the coast. After my panic attack I realized not having any bars on my cell phone for a few days could be a good thing. And our internet and cable went out halfway through the weekend, (panic attack #2) – but unplugged is a good thing. Family time, walking, reading, and bike rides are what weekends are all about.
So, the restaurant, Mill 109 was awesome. Great flavors, no real wait, nice people and priced right. The house we rented, The Heron House was super beachy, clean, had a spa, plenty of rooms, a sunny porch – overall a great choice (there are so many rentals to choose from). The Washington Coastline is really breathtaking – must see. And I realized I liked riding cruisers. If you have not been, book a long weekend and unplug. We’ll be back to this cute little oasis on the Washington Coast, rain or shine.
Many people make their way over to Bainbridge Island in the summer. Many walk on the ferry, but many drive too. If you drive, I recommend you explore far beyond downtown Winslow and check out our amazingly scenic parks. They are great if you have kids, or not. All will get you out of your car for a walk and you will see some of the better “local” sites on the island.
On the north end. Great scenic views of Seattle and marine traffic. Camping. A play structure for kids and adirondack chairs for mom and dad. A super spot at low tide and massive amounts of drift wood if you want to get creative.
Lytle Beach and Fort Ward are on the sunny south end. Lytle Beach is a road’s end beach. Warm and sunny, with chairs and paddle boards for public use. Fort Ward has a boat launch and is great for walks and runs along the water.
On the south end as well, a great spot for fishing, crabbing, pier jumping or just gazing at the water. One of our favorite spots on the island. Stop by the Treehouse Cafe for a bite to eat on your way home.
On the north end. This park has it all. I love the 1.5 mile walking/running loop. The play structure is the best on the island. Lots of green grass and open space. Tennis, superb soccer fields, an indoor gym, baseball fields, pond, covered eating areas . . . the list really goes on.
This could be a first or last stop coming from the ferry. Hawley Cove is in Wing Point and it is a nice spot to watch the ferries come and go. An easy walk to the beach and this is one of the best beaches on the island for collecting sand dollars.
Yesterday my family and I had the pleasure of visiting the private garden of Little and Lewis here on Bainbridge Island. My parents were visiting from California, and the garden tour made for a nice local outing. Islanders George Little and David Lewis are sculptors, painters, gardeners – true artists. They are known for their signature watercolor concrete sculptors. The duo have now created two amazing private gardens on Bainbridge Island. Their first was open from 1992 to 2008 until the couple sold the home and gardens in 2008. Their current garden at their new home opened just last year in May of 2010.
From bird baths to garden plaques to fountains, their art can not only be seen in their own garden, but in many a garden on Bainbridge Island (and beyond). Being in real estate I have had the distinctive pleasure of seeing their work in many a garden – a nice little perk. Their website lists some of their classic pieces for sale, but I can tell you first hand that they also do creative custom pieces, especially in the fountain department.
Personally, I am a big fan of their Raven Fountains and their pomegranates, large and small. My kids enjoyed the chickens, a new addition to the Little and Lewis Garden. I must say they have one of the most artistic chicken coops on the island.
Their garden is open to the public about 5 times a year and also by appointment.
Thanks David and George for the tour.