A new proposal at the Port of Olympia promises to further develop the plans to form a retail shopping area in its Market District near the waterfront.

Executive Director Nick Handy says a request for proposals went out this fall to develop a 1.2-acre property across the street from the Olympia Farmers Market.

Only one response was received. It was from the Olympia-based Rants Group, which had also developed the nearby Market Place building.

The Rants Group is proposing to build a three-story, approximately 44,000-square-foot combination retail and office building to be called Olympia Town Centre.

Port staff has reviewed the proposed design and given comments on it, Handy says. The staff is recommending the latest design alternative be presented to the Port Commission on Dec. 13 for approval.

The proposal features a cannery row-type building that fits with Port development guidelines for the district.

“The whole District is designed to be a modern adaptation of a cannery row style,” Handy says.

The first floor is planned to be retail space, while upper floors are to become commercial offices.

Local firm BJSS Duarte Bryant is working on the building’s design.

“The idea is to attract complementary retail businesses that will continue to build the Market District into a shopping area,” Handy says. “The retail component of the building is very inviting.”

If the project goes forward, construction would take place in 2001.

“The three commissioners haven’t seen it yet, but I can tell you it’s very exciting,” Handy says. “We don’t know exactly who the retailers will be, but given that the Farmers Market is attracting 500,000 visitors a year, you can expect a pretty strong interest in that location. You have Anthony’s restaurant drawing to the area. The Swantown Boatworks is under construction and they’ll be drawing to the area. We’re really beginning to see the synergy coming together in this project. This project will really give the District a major boost.”

By Kamilla K. McClelland, Business Examiner staff