Partnersplanning Harborside building

Published on Thu, Feb 17, 2005 by eg Olson

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Partners planning Harborside building

By Meg Olson

“It’s an opportunity to be pioneers,” said Rick Osburn of his partnership’s plans to build a visually innovative mix of stores and condominiums at the former site of Blaine’s adult bookshop. “I think it will set the standard and we want to set the bar high.”

Osburn and partner Doug Romano met building homes in Birch Bay and have always felt the Blaine waterfront was a diamond in the rough. “Blaine is one of the last great waterfront towns,” he said. With other partners they formed Harborside LLC and bought the project property for $185,000 in late 2004. “This is our first one,” Osburn said of the planned 19,000 square-foot Harborside Plaza.

Originally the partners had hopes to build a simple condominium project, Osburn said, because of a greater economic return. “The city requires commercial on the first floor,” he said, so they started their building with 3,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

The project will extend the city’s waterfront boardwalk 75 feet to the south and connect it to the building, which Osburn said he hopes will end up being an outside seating area for a restaurant or café. “I see it as a wonderful place to watch sunsets in the summer,” he said.

The second and third floors will have four condominium units each, ranging from 1,010 to 1,500 square feet, topped by a fourth floor 2,200 square-foot penthouse. Smaller units will start at $275,000 and the penthouse is going for $600,000. Underground there will be parking, storage and office space.

The city allowed the project an additional 10 feet of height in exchange for a 12-foot strip that will be left open at the south end of the project. Osburn said everyone wins from the trade-off. “The public will always value that space as a view corridor, our south side will always have windows, sun, and never be up against the brick wall of another building.” He added the top floor penthouse was setback from the roofline and not visible from the sidewalk.

Architect Fred Wagner designed a building that mixes turn-of-the century design elements with contemporary shifting wall and rooflines. “It provides a lot of visual interest and real turn-of-the-century flavor,” Osburn said. “It feels like it belongs.” Blaine community development director Terry Galvin agreed. “It has a lot of really interesting lines,” he said. “It will be a monument building for the city of Blaine.” He said the city’s planning commission would evaluate the project design February 17 and staff was preparing what he described as a positive staff report.

Osburn said with city approval he and his partners hoped to start building by June 2005 and have the project ready to occupy in summer 2006. Osburn said they haven’t started actively soliciting tenants for the commercial space but he visualizes a mix of restaurant and retail, perhaps a bookstore, or a group of small shops.

“I think it will be a gem of a retail space and will anchor the boardwalk,” he said. “It would be nice if one venture took it and really made something great.”

Harborside Plaza is just the beginning for Harborside LLC on Blaine’s waterfront. They have already purchased another lot further south on Peace Portal Drive. “We’ll be doing more,” Osburn said