The city of Oak Harbor is planning to purchase two parcels of waterfront property on the corner of Pioneer Way and Bayshore Drive for economic development purposes.
City Council voted unanimously to approve a purchase and sale agreement of 1081 and 1091 SE Pioneer Way at Tuesday’s meeting. The parcels are located next to four other undeveloped properties, together making up the large empty field next to Alfy’s Pizza. The properties in question are smaller parcels on the east end of the field and are 60,248 square feet. There are currently two empty buildings located on the properties.
City Administrator Blaine Oborn said the two properties were originally listed at $1.2 million but have since dropped to $699,000, most likely due to “environmental issues.”
The city has made an offer of $400,000. The assessed value of the two properties is $802,359.
Oborn said the lot is already being used for festivals and presented a list of other proposed long-term uses for the land, including expansion of the marina, a hotel or convention center, a food truck court and an RV park and dump station.
“The city can take the proactive approach and purchase this property currently being listed for economic development,” he said, “and then we can look at demolishing the current structures. We can do that in-house.”
Oborn said the city will need to conduct studies as part of a 90-day feasibility period, which will include investigating the environmental issues, before purchasing the parcels.
While all council members were in support of the purchase, some concerns were raised.
Councilmember Dan Evans said he was worried about those environmental issues, as well as the two dilapidated structures and having a plan for the use of the land.
“I’m not a big fan of the city holding real estate just to hold it,” he said.
Councilmember Shane Hoffmire shared a similar sentiment.
“I think economic development should be intentional, not haphazard,” he said. “You know, at times the government has to step up and be part of the solution.”
Councilmember Bryan Stucky asked if there was any realistic use for the parcels at their current size without purchasing the other four lots.
Oborn said that the other lots could possibly be up for sale in the future, but right now, the city would focus on buying the two lots currently on the market.
“I think it’s been under contract eight times and this will be the ninth time it’s been under contract,” Oborn said. “So we’re purchasing it at quite a lot lower than what they had it on the market for because of the environmental issues.”
He went on to say that the goal of purchasing this property would be to increase the “synergy” between Oak Harbor’s downtown and the waterfront.
“We’re trying to help the market. That’s what economic development is all about,” he said.
Councilmember Beth Munns agreed that the land was located in a prime location.
“Let’s grab it,” she said. “I mean, you’re not going to get central-downtown district unless you put something into it.”