Source: Seattle Magazine
By: Sheila Cain, with Sheila Mickool, Jessica Yadegaran, and Madeline Lootens with additional reporting by Jennifer Meyers
Posted: March 2016

#7 – Bremerton

Young, hip, happening…Bremerton?

A new city-led campaign is actively targeting millenials to live and work in Bremerton. The hour-long ferry commute to the mainland can be relaxing and productive, city leaders say, and beats sitting in Seattle traffic 

The town’s mayor, Patty Lent, wants millennials to make that association with her city of 39,410, an hour-long ferry ride across Puget Sound from Seattle. And given the changes Bremerton has been seeing in the past couple of years, it may not be that much of a stretch.

City leaders have been actively promoting the livability of their city, best known as the home of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and its efforts have been paying off. Building permits have skyrocketed: By last year, the total valuation of permits approved in 2015 was upward of $81 million, according to the city. That’s more than twice the $36 million approved in 2014. And more than 1,000 new housing units (in the form of apartments and single-family homes)—most of them in or within walking distance of the downtown core, with others accessible by bus—will be completed within the next two years.

“We want young families and young professionals,” says Lent, a former Kitsap County commissioner who is currently serving her second term as mayor. “We feel living here and having access to everything going on in the bigger metropolis [of Seattle] gives them the best of both worlds.”

Lent feels the ferry commute for those who have jobs in Seattle shouldn’t be a deterrent. After all, she says, it’s better than sitting in traffic for an hour in your car on Interstate 5. Bremerton has plenty of jobs as well, she says, for those who want to live and work in Bremerton. The naval shipyard and the naval base are hiring about 50 people a week, she says, many of whom are tech professionals and engineers.

Clockwise from top left: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard; shaking things up at Toro Lounge; historic Admiral Theatre; the roasted beet salad at Honor Bar; Purpose Boutique, artist Curtis Steiner at his Manette gallery, named after his dog Mortimer

The type of young people the city is hoping to attract are already beginning to discover Bremerton. Kate Giuggio and Matt Tinder (formerly the executive pastry chef at Coi and Saison in San Francisco) are opening Saboteur Bakery adjacent to Bremerton’s Evergreen Park this spring, after hosting a number of pop-up events in downtown Seattle and elsewhere. They’re renovating a Quonset hut built in 1910 and formerly used by the Navy.

“We were drawn to Bremerton because it has an amazing ‘up and coming’ vibe,” says Giuggio. “We wanted to go to a community that is really in need of a great bakery and found an amazing space that is really iconic to the community.”

Artist Curtis Steiner opened an offshoot of his eponymous Ballard gallery last fall in Manette, a small residential and retail neighborhood located just east of downtown Bremerton across the Port Washington Narrows. The Green Lake resident, who has a second home in Manette, calls his Manette shop Mortimer, named after his dog (Manette, 2108 E 11th St.; 206.297.7116; Facebook, “Curtis Steiner”). And Navy wife and mother Christie Johnson opened Purpose Boutique (402 Pacific Ave.; 360.813.6040; in 2013—the first new women’s clothing shop in Bremerton in 25 years, according to Lent.

In a video made by the city last year to market Bremerton to technology companies and their human resources departments, Johnson touts space availability and affordable rents as reasons she opened shop in Bremerton.

“Why Bremerton? Some people like to ask why,” she says on the video. “But I like to ask, why the hell not?”

Bremerton Snapshot 
Median home value: $243,000
Appreciate forecast: 4.0%
Median household income: $43,362
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): There is no direct route by bus. The closest way is from the Seattle Ferry Terminal, from which the ferry delivers you to the Bremerton Transportation Center; takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes
By car—Via I-5 S and State Route 16 W; takes 1 hour and 18 minutes
From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus and ferry: Take No. 550 from Bellevue TC to Seattle Ferry Terminal, which takes you to Bremerton Transportation Center; takes about 2 hours.
By car—Via I-5 S and  SR 16 W; takes 1 hour and 27 minutes.
School district and rating: Bremerton School District; Naval Avenue Elementary School 7/10, Mountain View Middle School 4/10, Bremerton High School 6/10