Construction + Real Estate in the Tri-Cities - October 2020

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Construction + Real Estate in the Tri-Cities




Not even a pandemic can slow demand for homes in the Tri-Cities COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

The outlook is unclear as Covid-19 rewrites how we use space

A 2020 specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

A 2020 specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

In this issue 4

Market Overview


City of Richland


Port of Kennewick


Residential Growth


City of Pasco


Port of Pasco


Commercial Real Estate


City of West Richland


K-12 Education


City of Kennewick


Port of Benton


Higher Education

509-737-8778 • Mailing address: 8524 W. Gage Blvd., #A1-300 • Kennewick, WA 99336 Melanie Hair CEO

Kristina Lord Publisher

Wendy Culverwell Editor

Tiffany Lundstrom Advertising Director

Chad Utecht Advertising Account Manager

Vanessa Guzmán Graphic Designer

COVER: Benton County administration building, 7122 W. Okanogan Place, Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography Focus: Construction + Real Estate in the Tri-Cities is a publication of TriComp Inc. All rights reserved. Contents of Focus: Construction + Real Estate in the Tri-Cities are copyright by TriComp Inc. Every effort will be made to assure information published is correct; however, we are not liable for any errors or omissions made despite these efforts.

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Market Overview Covid chaos clouds future of Tri-City real estate BY WENDY CULVERWELL

Tri-City real estate broker Charles Laird was vacationing in his native Scotland in March when national borders began to close because of the spreading threat of coronavirus. Laird and his family cut their trip short and headed home, a journey that included driving on Interstate 5 through pandemic-stricken Seattle. The chronically congested freeway was all but empty. Laird counted five other vehicles. The new world, he said, was eerie. It was an apt break between the pre-Covid era, when commercial real estate was booming, and the reality of the new crisis. All quarters of the Tri-City real estate market were thriving prior to the pandemic. Residential, office, retail, multifamily, 4

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industrial and agricultural properties were in heavy demand from buyers and tenants. It was “unprecedented,” and not just at Tippett Co., where Laird focuses on commercial property sales and leasing with a focus on agriculture. Tippett also advises on brokerage, development and offers property management services. “We were all busy. Phones were ringing. There was stuff going on on a scale I haven’t experienced before,” he said. As Washington hunkered down under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and subsequent phased Safe Start program, the phones rang less often. Covid-19 created winners and losers.

Residential The residential market

remains strong, fueled by low interest rates and demand that exceeds supply. The current inventory is about a third of normal and many of the properties listed are unbuilt. It’s not enough to meet demand. And it’s not enough to occupy all 1,100-plus Realtors operating in the Mid-Columbia. Jeff Losey, president of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, called the market baffling. Normally, high unemployment is bad for homebuilders. In August, the local unemployment rate was 8.5% “No jobs, no pay, no house. You’ve got to qualify (for a loan),” he said. But homes continue to sell quickly and prices are rising. “It’s great if you’re selling,” he said. It’s not great for a healthy residential market.

The Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village and Clover Island are visible in the foreground. The Pasco shoreline is visible across the Columbia River in the background. Courtesy PS Media/Port of Kennewick

“Arguably it’s an unhealthy market.” Losey said the picture could darken because of a chronic shortage of skilled labor and a crisis in lumber prices. Lumber prices have soared in recent months, adding about $16,000 to the cost of a typical new home. The National Association Home Builders is pushing for better trade policies and increased domestic production. But hurricanes, which drive up demand for building materials, won’t help. And West Coast forest fires curtailed logging in Oregon for at least part of September. “It could lengthen the amount of time it’s going to take to build a home,” he said.

Commercial Deal volumes are way down, according to MLS data for Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. The numbers reflect the year

through September and exclude areas outside the three cities and deals processed through other listing services. Caveats aside, the MLS figures confirm the cooling trend. Office building sales were down 35% from where they were a year ago on a per-square-foot basis. Office leasing was down 30%. Retail building sales were down 90% and retail leasing by 42%. In real terms, seven office buildings and three retail buildings sold in the Tri-Cities through mid-September, compared to 18 and 17, respectively, during the same period in 2019. It’s unclear what that portends for commercial real estate. Land will continue to attract investors, Laird said. “If you look at the sectors, the demand for land has been pretty solid. I don’t think that’s going to change. People are still comfort-

able buying land,” he said. Development is strong now but the future is uncertain. There is plenty of commercial construction taking place in the Tri-Cities. Most of it was authorized before the pandemic. The construction industry is hopeful a stimulus package will keep government spending going as private investment is expected to taper off in the coming year. As of late September, no stimulus package had been approved. Pre-pandemic public investments in infrastructure included roads, schools and fire stations, and that excludes federal spending at the Hanford site. Notable local examples include site work at the Port of Kennewick’s Vista Field redevelopment, fire station projects in all three of the Tri-Cities, a taxiway project at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco and Richland’s Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Benton County 2020 population estimate:

Duportail Bridge and Increase related from 2019: road upgrades. The private sector Franklin County is investing 2020 population in apartments, estimate: agricultural facilities and strip malls. Two apartment Increase projects are being from 2019: built on the Columbia River — one in Pasco and the other in Richland. Richland’s prized Park Place gateway project is nearly finished, adding new

205,700 2%

96,760 2.2%


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

retail space and more than 100 apartments overlooking Howard Amon Park. Kennewick has approved hundreds of apartments and a threebay strip mall is nearing completion by J.C. Penney at Columbia Center. Kenyon Zero Storage is completing its latest cold storage warehouse in Pasco.

What will the future bring? Laird predicts agriculture investment will continue. But office and retail space are less certain. Retail, which includes restaurant spaces, has been slammed by the pandemic, as has the hospitality industry, notably hotels. Some won’t reopen. The Bookworm in Richland and Cousin’s Restaurant in Pasco are just two local businesses

that have announced they won’t come back after the pandemic. Both will leave vacant space. Office space poses the biggest challenge because no one knows if or when workers will return after being sent home during the pandemic, Laird said. If that’s the new normal, there will be less demand, which will pressure owners to cut rents. Some are investing in costly measures such as touchless doors and automatic temperature scanners to reassure tenants and their employees that it’s safe to come back. If employees return, they could need more space to maintain social distancing, which in theory will increase demand for rentable space. “There’s a lot of unknowns,” Laird said. 

Residential Growth Willow Pointe Apartments at 250 Battelle Blvd. in north Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

If Covid can’t slow the Tri-City housing market, nothing can BY WENDY CULVERWELL

A pandemic, choking smoke and a polarizing national election did little to dampen demand for new and existing homes in the Tri-Cities as the calendar flipped toward the final quarter of 2020. More homes sold for higher prices. Unemployment increased, driven up in part because more people were seeking work. New home construction fell, but only slightly, and largely because Gov. Jay Inslee issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in March to curb the spread of contagion. The order temporarily halted most residential construction, leading homebuilders to apply for fewer permits. If a pandemic can’t slow the Tri-City market, nothing can, said Brett Lott, owner of Brett Lott Construction, which has 8

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

built custom and semi-custom homes in the Tri-Cities for 30 years. It’s true, said David Retter, president of Retter & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty. By mid-September, the inventory of homes for sale dropped to 375, a third the number needed for balance, from twice that a year ago, according to the TriCity Association of Realtors. The record low level was 350 in the early 1990s, when the population was much less than the current 300,000-plus and Hanford was hiring for its thennew cleanup mission. “We don’t have a lot of inventory,” Retter said. “It’s going to be a very interesting winter as we navigate through these Covid times.” Still, he agreed with Lott. “Covid has not stopped or

even put a dent in the real estate market in the Tri-Cities,” he said.

By the numbers Tri-City permitting agencies approved 1,021 single-family homes in the first eight months of 2020, an 8% drop from the same period in 2019 but comparable to activity levels for the two prior years. The Realtors group reported 3,117 sales of both new and existing homes through August, 6% more than the 2,934 sold during the same period in 2019. The agency said the median price rose 4.5% to $320,000 in August compared to a year prior. The average price rose 5% to $350,000 over the same period. Prices tend to drop slightly in the Tri-Cities when the weather cools and the busy summer buying season ends.

Turning to townhomes A tight inventory is one cause for concern. A shortage of buildable lots coupled with soaring lumber prices are two others. The combination of cheap mortgages and surging need for housing drives demand for homes. The shortage of homes for sale translates to fast sales, rising prices and strong demand for new construction. “I don’t see anything in the near term that is going to slow us down,” said Lott, whose company is completing the second phase of Terra Vista Heights in Kennewick’s Southridge neighborhood. His next development site is Richland’s Badger South area, where Brett Lott Homes will build townhomes. He expects to begin foundation work in December. The shift to townhomes answers a common question: Where is new construction for entry-level buyers? Lott said it’s not possible to build an entry-level home when it costs $180,000 just to secure the land and pay taxes, permit fees and commissions to the agents who bring the buyers. The $180,000 excludes building materials and labor. “We’re looking for ways like townhomes to mitigate that,” he said. The as yet unnamed Badger South project will feature duplex-style townhomes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two-car garages. They will be individually owned, and the idea is to cater to price-sensitive buyers and people who want to downsize out of larger homes. Tri-City builder Britt Creer builds across all price ranges through three companies. Urban Street Builders specializes in high-end custom homes. Ranchland Homes builds mid-level

and semi-custom homes. Red Mountain Construction builds townhomes and rental-grade properties. Creer said sales are strong across the range of prices. The biggest challenge is to find lots, particularly for custom homes in the $1 million-and-above range. There is interest, but buyers have a tough time finding a place to build. “We end up not building all the ones we look at because buyers can’t find suitable lots,” he said. In the mid-tier, he has enough orders to stay busy for eight months, with homes taking 40 days or less to sell. His biggest shift is to townhomes. Priced around $320,000, his projects cater to first time homebuyers and people looking to downsize with smaller yards. Pandemic fallout has been almost nonexistent. Creer said just one sale fell through because of the stay-home order. The unit was resold.

Lumber prices on the rise The National Association of Home Builders raised the alarm about soaring lumber prices this summer. The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite Price rose to $900 per 1,000 board feet in late August, from $340 a year earlier, it said. Lumber isn’t the most expensive component of building a home — that honor belongs to cement, an ingredient of concrete. Still, rising lumber prices added $16,000 to the average cost, it said. NAHB asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to urge domestic producers to increase production to address shortages. It sent a similar message to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking him to work

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on trade disputes that raised the price of imported Canadian softwoods. It also asked Laurence Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council and a top advisor to President Donald Trump, to use the “clout” of the White House to address both issues. Rising lumber prices prompted Creer to stop pulling permits for new projects in early August. He had more than a dozen projects in construction mid-September but was waiting to launch new ones until lumber pricing settles. If it doesn’t, he will “adjust prices and go forward.” Customers, particularly entry-level ones, can’t easily absorb the extra hit posed by rising costs, he said. Lott, on the other hand, said the sensitivity to price spans all ranges of homebuilding. Customers routinely shop at the top of their price range, so unexpected

increases can jeopardize plans. His company still is building though he suspects the new prices are here to stay. He blames shortsightedness for the cost problem. With Covid-19, mills shut down on the assumption everything was shutting down to avoid ending with an oversupply. But many states didn’t shut down and those, such as Washington, that did have restarted construction. “They’re scrambling to catch up,” he said. He doesn’t expect supply to catch up with demand until building slows during the cold winter months. Retter, of Sotheby’s, is watching lumber prices, but noted they are somewhat obscured by mortgage interest rates that are below 3%. Home-destroying hurricanes and fires will only drive up demand for lumber and other materials, causing prices to rise. Buyers don’t have much room

Photo by Scott Butner Photography

to maneuver in such a tight market, he said. “At the end of the day, they can’t pause too long because someone will come behind them and buy the house. The market is what it is.” 

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Commercial Real Estate Vista Field in Kennewick. | Courtesy Port of Kennewick

Construction industry watching to see how Covid-19 rewrites Tri-Cities’ big plans BY WENDY CULVERWELL

The Tri-Cities is coming off a banner year for commercial construction. New schools dot the region. A new cold storage warehouse is taking shape in north Pasco. Kennewick’s Vista Field is stocked with utility lines, paved streets, lamps and a water feature, waiting for private developers to build an urban village in the heart of the Tri-Cities. A Richland grain company is dramatically upgrading its railside facility, and Park Place at the city’s gateway is ready to welcome tenants to its retail spaces and 100-plus apartment units. Through August, Benton and Franklin counties and the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Prosser and Benton City issued non-residential building permits worth $420 12

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

million. That’s down from the $590 million permitted during the same period in 2019, which saw a boom in school construction and other projects, such as Vista Filed. Commercial construction totaled less than $300 million in both 2017 and 2018, making 2020 a relatively solid year for commercial starts. The future, however, is about as clear as the smoke that obliterated Tri-City skies in mid-September. The Covid-19 pandemic is rewriting how people and businesses use real estate. The pandemic is creating winners and losers, much the way it helped Washington asparagus growers in the spring while hurting potato growers.

A new normal Agriculture and related manufacturing continue to invest in

new facilities, said Joel Bouchey, regional coordinator for the Inland Northwest chapter of Associated General Contractors. Office and retail could be a challenge. Brick-and-mortar retailers, already reeling from online competition, are hard hit by the pandemic. “Restaurants and small shops that shuttered for Covid aren’t reopening. We are concerned there will be a long-term glut of available space in those sectors. Recovery could take some time,” Bouchey said. Office space is another unknown. Gov. Jay Inslee’s March Stay Home, Stay Healthy order made working from home the new normal for many. For some, it could be a permanent move, putting the future of the one-person, onedesk model in question.

Locally, AGC speculates the new social distancing rules could trigger a surge in renovations. But what does that really look like in the long term? CBRE, a global real estate firm, said U.S. employers vacated 50 million square feet more space than they leased in the first half of 2020 in its midyear office outlook. It was the first decline in annual leasing since 2009. While the rise in vacancy is prompting developers to shelve or reduce development plans, CBRE also notes that social distancing measures require more space between workers, mitigating the downsizing trend. “The work-from-home experiment has proven technically possible, but at what cost to corporate culture, collaboration and innovation? Any increase in remote-working represents a headwind to office demand,

with wider ramifications in terms of location priorities for investors and occupiers,” CBRE wrote in its August review. AGC, Bouchey said, A contractor sets new ties on the Port of Benton railroad. is watching Courtesy Port of Benton the long-term effects and tion industry going during an intends to lobby the 2021 Washeconomic downturn. ington Legislature to consider an That said, he notes that the infrastructure package to boost Tri-City economy tends to avoid local and state construction the worst swings, thanks to the spending. stabilizing effects of federal “We’d love some federal spending at Hanford and Pacific funding for that type of stuff,” he Northwest National Laboratory, added, citing the 2009 American and local agricultural production Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and processing. aka the stimulus package, as a model for keeping the construc“The Tri-Cities tends to ride

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Kamiakin High School, 600 N. Arthur St., Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Vista Field in Kennewick. | Courtesy Port of Kennewick

things out better than others,” he said.

Infrastructure projects Bouchey said he’s paying close attention to infrastructure projects such as Pasco’s Lewis Street overpass, Kennewick’s Ridgeline Drive underpass at Highway 395 and Richland’s Duportail Bridge, which is now wrapping up. Pasco planned to begin work on its long-planned Lewis Street overpass in 2020, but the state-funded project was paused after voters approved I-976, roll14

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

ing back car tabs and other fees. The city has not yet solicited bids from contractors for what promises to be a complicated undertaking. The project includes building a bridge over a busy rail corridor and backfilling the 1930s era tunnel that carries Lewis Street beneath the tracks. The city approved a $1.2 million agreement with BNSF Railway in August to facilitate the project. Elsewhere, contractors are busy building fire stations across the region, including multiple stations in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland. West Richland is preparing to begin work on its new police station at the Tri-City Raceway, a project that will include a small dog pound to hold dogs before they’re transferred to animal control. Total Site Services Inc., a woman-owned Richland general and civil construction firm, is building fire stations for Kennewick and Naches. Its current roster includes micro homes for the Kennewick Housing Authority and a brewery at Horn Rapids, said Shannon Toranzo, general manager. Owner Lisa Chapman-Rosa said the company is keeping a

solid outlook as it wraps up one high profile project, a $4.9 million project to install roads, utilities and other infrastructure at Vista Field for the Port of Kennewick. Work was slowed as the pandemic and governor’s shutdown order took hold in March that temporarily included construction. The slowdown interrupted labor availability and made it difficult to source key electronics for the project. The project was substantially complete by late September. Chapman-Rosa praised the port for its patience with delays. Everyone was in similar straits when the pandemic upended expectations for the year, she said. The pandemic isn’t done with construction. Labor is hard to come by, she said. Mandatory quarantining for workers exposed to coronavirus can still upset construction schedules. In mid-September, a subcontractor scheduled to finish paving a road in Prosser had to reschedule its work when it lost a crew because of a Covid exposure. That happened the same week that smoke blanketed the Mid-Columbia, forcing Total Site Services to shut down work sites to avoid exposing workers to hazardous air. “The Covid is still affecting the job,” Chapman-Rosa said. Chapman-Rosa and Toranzo said communicating with clients is the key to avoiding conflict when plans get derailed. Both say they’re grateful for the hard work the industry and its advocates are putting into complying with the new safety requirements for construction. “We’re all in this together. We’re not doing anything anyone else isn’t having to do,” Chapman-Rosa said. 

City of Kennewick Kennewick Fire Station 3, 6941 W. Grandridge Blvd., Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Tax dollars keep hammers swinging BY ANDREW KIRK

Government-funded projects are keeping construction workers busy in Kennewick despite the recession. Multiple commercial and residential projects are underway in every area of the city, and the largest are funded by the city, Benton County, Kennewick School District and Port of Kennewick, said Evelyn Lusignan, the city of Kennewick’s spokeswoman. “Development activity is down from the previous year but we’re still busy. Our office is closed to the public, but our staff is still processing new inquiries,” she said. Kennewick, the state’s 14th largest city, grew to 84,960 residents in 2020, or 1.5% from 2019-20. A large portion of the city’s $403 million biennial budget comes from sales taxes. Lusignan said that’s why the city is worried about the effects from the state-mandated shutdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of coronavirus — but only a little. “I don’t want to paint a picture of not having vulnerability,” she said. “There’s always a delay so the numbers for some of the hard-

est-hit months we haven’t received yet. … What helped us for 2020 is we had a strong first quarter. Before Covid hit, our businesses were doing very well. What makes us optimistic in the future is we did have strong businesses in place and we can recover quickly.”

Our approach is looking at growth and development in all areas of Kennewick. Evelyn Lusignan, city of Kennewick spokeswoman The city has reserves but has not used them. Sales tax receipts through July 2020 were down 0.6% from the previous year — but up from 2017-18, she said. Permits for single-family homes through August totaled 193 (valued at $57.5 million), while the city processed 316 during all of 2019 (valued at $100 million). Permits for new commercial construction were already at 49 as of August versus 79 for the entire year before. And while those 79 projects were valued at $74 million, the 49 processed as of August were already valued at

about $80 million. As quarantine restrictions eased, some of the city’s newest and largest retail centers reopened and welcomed back customers. The remodel of the movie theater in the Columbia Center mall into Dick’s Sporting Goods is complete. At Home opened in the former Shopko building next to Ranch & Home on Columbia Center Boulevard. To the south, the new Goodwill Industries store is welcoming donations and customers. Ongoing construction projects include the renovation of the Kennewick High School campus, development of Vista Field by the Port of Kennewick, and the continuing development of Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village on Columbia Drive, a joint project between the city and the port. The city completed the streets in Columbia Gardens. The port welcomed two wineries as tenants of the buildings shortly before the pandemic, Lusignan said.

Demand for housing Demand for housing prompted several residential projects in south Kennewick, Lusignan said. Terra Vista Heights south Focus | Construction + Real Estate


of Ridgeline Drive has 18 lots platted. Southridge Estates, west of Southridge High School, has 76 lots platted with 193 in remaining phases. Apple Valley off the Bob Olson Parkway has 156 lots platted with 150 in remaining phases. Southcliffe has 53 lots platted with 231 remaining on the ridgeline of Thompson 2020 population Hill north of estimate: Bob Olson Parkway. The Village at Southridge has Increase 65 lots platted with from 2019: 87 remaining near Ridgeline Drive and Sherman Street. To accommodate growing neighborhoods, the Kennewick School District rebuilt Amistad Elementary and expanded the Tri-Tech Skills Center this year.

84,960 1.5%


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

It also is completing a $21 million expansion of Southridge High School, adding new classrooms and improving athletic facilities. Kamiakin High School is getting a new classroom building valued at $14 million on the northeast portion of campus along with athletic facility upgrades. The new Kennewick High School will be nearly 300,000 square feet. The entire KHS project is estimated to cost $87 million. All three high school projects are expected to be done in time for the first day of school in 2021. “When all of the high school projects are complete in the fall of 2021, they will each accommodate up to 2,000 students and provide improved athletic facilities at all sites,” said Robyn Chastain, executive director of communications and public

relations for the district.

Other big projects Benton County is building a $10 million administrative building on its existing campus south of Canal Drive. The three-story office building will be nearly 41,500 square feet, allowing county administrators to consolidate similar offices into two buildings, the new one and the criminal justice facility. The treasurer, auditor and assessor offices will move into the new building, along with the commissioners’ various departments. For land development, this creates a one-stop shop, said Matt Rasmussen, Benton County deputy administrator. “It will be one place to go instead of driving all over town,” he said. That will move non-criminal/justice functions out of the existing justice building, opening

space to move the juvenile justice programs. It has the added bonus of not forcing visitors to the other departments through the security checkpoints, Rasmussen said. The Covid-19 shutdown pushed the estimated opening date to May or June. The smoky skies and hazardous air in September 2020 delayed work again, Rasmussen said. Yakima Valley Farm Workers is building Miramar Health Center, a 29,000-square-foot medical and dental clinic, on West Rio Grande Avenue across from Lawrence Scott Park. The nonprofit will provide health services to patients of all income levels. The contractor broke ground in January 2020. It expects to see the $15.2 million project completed in early 2021. To the south, the city is replacing an aging 10 million-gallon water tank near 18th and Kellogg streets, a project in the works since 2018. The multiyear project includes a new 6 million gallon tank and water main, Lusignan said. The plan to expand the Toyota Center and Three Rivers Convention Center complex is ongoing, she said. The city agreed to expand

Miramar Health Center, 6351 W. Rio Grande Ave., Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

the convention center and build a Broadway-style theater if developer A-1 Pearl, led by Vijay Patel, built a seven-story hotel with accompanying commercial space on adjacent land. Both sides still are seeking funding for their projects and are in the “due diligence” period, so no shovels will break ground in the immediate future. Another dream still in the planning phases is an interchange at Ridgeline Drive and Highway 395. The city of Kennewick pledged money for the construction in 2018 and state is covering $15 million of the $22 million needed from the 2015 transportation package. “It’s a big project on the horizon but we haven’t broken ground yet,” Lusignan said.

Site work at the Benton County administration building, 7122 W. Okanogan Place, Kennewick. Photo by Scott Butner Photography

The interchange will give south Kennewick residents better access to major arterials and is expected to prompt even more development along Ridgeline Drive. “It’s very difficult for people to get in and out. It’s prime real estate there. It will really develop when we can get that interchange in… there’s a lot of interest,” she said. Other significant commercial projects include a new gym at 5102 W. Okanogan Place, a complete remodel of Sephora on Columbia Center Boulevard and a new Sana Behavioral Hospital at 7319 W. Hood Place. According to Lusignan, one of the most exciting aspects of all the government construction is how interspersed it is. “We’re really looking at all areas of our community for growth — development is not just isolated at Southridge, or Vista Field, or downtown Kennewick. Our approach is looking at growth and development in all areas of Kennewick,” she said.  Focus | Construction + Real Estate


City of Richland Duportail Bridge, Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Major construction projects span city limits BY ROBIN WOJTANIK

A global pandemic hasn’t slowed progress across the city of Richland as major construction projects wrap up and new ones prepare to break ground. The $43 million Duportail Bridge opened to limited traffic in early September 2020. It is expected to fully open by Nov. 1, 2020, providing a new span across the Yakima River and connecting central Richland with the busy Queensgate Drive shopping hub. “The project came in well under the total expected costs,” said Pete Rogalsky, public works director for the city of Richland. Project completion was delayed by about 30 days but an overall savings of “$1 to $2 million, possibly more” was realized due to water and road construction costs. “But none of that savings is local (money), except from water bills in town. What we don’t spend on the bridge stays in the water fund and helps us avoid raising user rates if our costs go

higher,” said Rogalsky, who added that the remaining savings came out of grant money. What isn't spent in grants goes back to the agency that awarded it. There’s a chance some of the money may be allocated toward minor enhancements of the Bypass Highway in the next couple years. Richland, the state’s 21st largest city, has seen modest population increases each year for the past decade. It has grown by 22% since 2010. From 2019-20, the city grew 3% to 58,550 residents. With the housing market continuing to be tight throughout the Tri-Cities, Richland issued 257 single-family home permits valued at $80.9 million through August 2020, compared to 235 valued at $71 million for the same period in 2019. Several residential projects stand ready to help meet the demand in the coming year.

Luxury apartments The Duportail Bridge will offer easier access to the city’s down-

town core where the highly-anticipated Park Place development at 650 George Washington Way prepares for residents to fill about 100 units ranging from studio to two-bedroom apartments. Developers expect the first tenants to move in before Thanksgiving. In early fall, about 10 of the 106 units were leased. Rents range from $1,250 for the lowest-priced studio to $2,000 for the highest-priced two-bedroom. Work on Park Place started a year before Covid-19 restrictions went into effect but suffered a full six-week shutdown in spring 2020. Once work restarted, the project dealt with staffing shortages while trying to complete the high-profile residences overlooking Howard Amon Park and the Columbia River. “Everybody’s project got shut down and backed up,” said David Lippes, principal of Richland-based Boost Builds, which is developing Park Place with Crown Group, of Chicago. “Labor wasn’t finished with prior Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Park Place, 650 George Washington Way, Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

projects and there were labor shortages as the subcontractors tried to satisfy everyone.” Increase Prior to from 2019: the ramp up of Covid-19 restrictions in March, the team already had noticed trouble developing in China and switched suppliers of cabinetry to a cabinet manufacturer in the United States, despite the higher cost. “We traded money for a sense of security,” Lippes said. Without specifying the exact cost of project overruns and delays, Lippes said, “Every day work continues, it costs money.” Originally targeted for completion by the end of 2019, the new occupancy goal for the apartments is the end of October 2020. Work may continue beyond that on the commercial spaces to build out 7,000 square feet for retail. The first committed tenant will be the eatery Graze A Place to Eat, which will move its Parkway sandwich shop to the storefronts on George Washington Way, filling about half of the available space in one of the

2020 population estimate:

58,550 3%


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

two retail pads. Park Place will be the first of two high-end apartment complexes set to open. Willow Pointe in north Richland is the other. The 126-unit complex is described as “resort style,” and developers broke ground on the first $6 million phase this summer. Boost Builds is also quietly transforming 1100 Jadwin Ave. The commercial building will reopen after a $5.5 million renovation. Updates include a new façade and heating ventilation and air conditioning systems. “It’s currently a beautiful building with no one in it,” Lippes said. “We expect tenants to reutilize the space as soon as they can, and some have upgraded their spaces.”

Old City Hall property As their multimillion dollar projects wrap up, the Boost team continues to be a rolling stone, seeking other opportunities to transform the city of Richland. Lippes said the team made two proposals to the city of Richland for its former City Hall property, but so far there is no movement. “The city is currently giving thoughtful consideration to

several proposals and options for this site, as it is a unique opportunity for the city. With the current pandemic, this project, as with many, has not moved forward as quickly as it may have previously,” said Mandy Wallner, marketing specialist for Richland’s economic development department. The prime property at the corner of George Washington Way and Swift Boulevard remains unsold and undeveloped, as the city still needs to complete infrastructure improvements and recording details prior to sale. Mayor Ryan Lukson added the city may “realign its vision or wait further along for the right opportunity to develop” the property that straddles George Washington Way and Jadwin Avenue. “Our larger visions could be about 500 residential units,” said Lippes, which would include Park Place, the former City Hall site and plans to develop residential space at 1200 Jadwin Ave. “Then there’s 500 families bringing bike traffic, retail traffic and revitalization to the area. Our motivation remains as high as when we visualized it a number of years ago, to have a real downtown: lively during the day and lively at night.” The vacant City Hall lot is one of several available sites on the market, including restaurant space near Swift and George Washington Way that is frequently asked about. Wallner expects the sites will stay vacant until the former City Hall property is developed. As commercial and residential tenants move into Park Place, it could generate more interest across the street at 601 George Washington Way, the empty site

Duportail Street and Bypass Highway, Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

of the former Tri-Cities Battery. The former Albertsons on Lee Boulevard in the city’s central has sat vacant since the grocery closed more than three years ago. Richland City Hall remains closed to the public, but the city is serving customers electronically and over the phone, while details of the 2021 budget are worked through. “As we put together our 2021 budget we are working conservatively, to the best of our ability, to anticipate potential shortfalls in some areas and are working on strategic mitigation efforts for impacts that do occur,” Wallner said. The last approved budget topped $308 million, with $61 million in the general fund.

Way. It will make way for eight commercial properties on cityowned land there. “There’s a lot of interest in that, including from myself,” Rew said. Two gas stations with convenience stores will be built at the intersection with Highway 240. One already is underway by LCR

Construction and will include a Firehouse Subs. “There’s going to be quite a bit of change in Horn Rapids over the next three years,” Rew said. Rew plans to add 54 townhomes starting at the first of the year at the golf course. It’s part of an overall plan to redo the course, clubhouse and surrounding facilities. The townhomes will be built over one to three years. “They’ll be next to the tennis courts, pool, driving range,” Rew said. He said that a lack of buildable lots in the fast-growing south Richland has pushed interest back to Horn Rapids. “There’s so much happening, just keep watching it. It’s one of the best communities in Richland, as far as walking paths, how wide they are, the number of parks — and it’s only getting better,” he said. 

Horn Rapids developments Big plans are in place for the north end of Richland, including the Horn Rapids residential neighborhood. “I think it’s going to be one of Richland’s highlights,” said Brad Rew, general manager of the Horn Rapids Golf Course and owner of Gale-Rew Construction. Work has started on a $1.4 million roundabout at Clubhouse Lane and Kingsgate Focus | Construction + Real Estate


City of Pasco Columbia River Walk Apartments, 2120 W. A St., Pasco. | Courtesy FTI Management

Affordability still key to record growth BY ANDREW KIRK

Construction is booming in Pasco. It’s because the city is an incredible value for builders, said Rick White, Pasco’s director of community and economic development. Whether residential, commercial or industrial, Pasco is less expensive to develop than Richland and Kennewick and it promises population growth, he said. With 77,100 residents, the Franklin County seat has been at times the fastest-growing community in Washington. In the past decade, its population has grown nearly 30%. The Department of Natural Resources-managed land south of Interstate 182, between Roads 100 and 68, was handed over to the city last year and has filled up fast with both residential and

commercial development, White said. “It’s physically easy to develop,” he said. Excluding schools, Pasco saw about $13 million in commercial construction through August 2019. In 2020, it was $22 million. The city issued 319 single-family home permits through August 2020, compared to 408 during the same period the previous year. The valuation of those permits is down about $30 million, he said. Industrial construction permits were valued at under $10 million last year, but valuations were nearly $78 million in late August 2020. Much of that industrial work was expansions at existing food processing plants. “Things are really hopping in the food business,” he said. That is also making Pasco’s

available farmland extra valuable. “We have quite a bit of distribution and ag value-added product on the 395 and Highway 12 corridor. You can’t buy ag land right now. There’s none out there for sale,” he said. In August 2020, Pasco issued 228 commercial building permits, compared to 278 for the same period the previous year, 57 industrial permits versus 48 the previous year (and 61 for all of 2019) and 1,683 single-family home permits versus 1,619 the previous year. That brisk business during a recession is good news for the city’s $450 million biennial budget.

Keeping up with growth More residential construction will be coming to west Pasco soon, as the sewer work for the plots north of Interstate 182 near Focus | Construction + Real Estate


the Columbia River are nearly complete, White said. Digging should begin by the end of the year and homebuilding could begin by fall 2021. The city annexed land to the north so it has room to grow. The lease on the nearby gravel pit is up in 2025 and that land could be available for devel2020 population opment soon estimate: after, “although, only time will tell,” White noted. The new Ray Increase Reynolds Middle from 2019: School was built off Broadmoor Boulevard last year and many homes are newly finished, but Pasco had to “take its foot off the gas” on the Broadmoor master plan to first complete a state-mandated comprehensive plan update,

77,100 2.4%

White said. Once that is complete, further planning for the Road 100 area north of I-182 will continue at the end of the year. Commercial land is infilling rapidly along Sandifur Parkway, with the Sandifur Crossing shopping center completed last year. It is home to Grocery Outlet, Porter’s Real Barbecue, Planet Fitness and other tenants. Evan Bates, general manager of McCurley Integrity Subaru on Sandifur, said the company has been pleased with the neighborhood’s growth since it opened there in 2016. “This location presented an opportunity to build a storefront that could increase ease of access, hold a greater selection of inventory and offer amenities that we were not previously able to provide. We feel incredibly grateful that our client base has

There’s substantial residential development people don’t see because they’re never there. Rick White, Pasco Director of Community & Economic Development responded to this change with tremendous business growth over the last four years, and we see a similar trend continuing well into the future,” he said. The success of the west Pasco neighborhood is an “incredibly positive sign of the strength of Tri-Cities’ economy and future prospects,” Bates said. On the other side of I-182, the Department of Natural Resources is marketing 60 acres for development in the middle of an

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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Pasco Fire Station 84 and headquarters, 4929 W. Court St., Pasco. | Courtesy TCA Architecture and Planning

urban area. Bleyhl Co-Op was one of the first businesses to build on Chapel Hill Boulevard west of the DNR land. Danika Pink, community outreach coordinator, said the store moved from east Pasco near the cable bridge in 2018. The store serves farmers, especially those with orchards and vineyards. Being near residential growth has introduced new customers who shop the co-op for pet food, Pink said. “We knew some of our customers would follow us over, but we’ve gained a lot of foot traffic from people in this area … lots of families coming into this location,” she said. White said his office continues to see applications to develop 12- to 15-acre plots between I-182 and Sylvester Street off Road 100. While some of the parcels have challenges connecting to roadways and sewer lines, many are still “very attractive” to developers who make proposals to the city “all the time,” he said. A bid to begin renovation of Peanuts Park, the farmers market and surrounding land was rejected by the city, forcing a redo of the process. The project likely will inspire new development in the downtown area, but has been delayed again, White said.

Another planned project for 2020, the new overpass for Lewis Street east of downtown, hasn’t gone out to bid yet, he said. The work will revitalize the Lewis Street corridor, but will cost $38 million, forcing the city to tread carefully.

Tierra Vida growth The Tierra Vida community in east Pasco continues to grow, White said. The residential de-

veloper is moving forward with an education center to facilitate philanthropic initiatives and function as a kind of community center. “It’s quite a project in itself,” White said. “There’s substantial residential development people don’t see because they’re never there.” Hundreds of people are learning how convenient it is to live in east Pasco, White said.

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With close proximity to I-182, the Highway 395 corridor, Sacajawea State Park, Hood Park, the Port of Pasco and downtown Pasco, Tierra Vida’s single-family and multifamily homes built over the past two years have been successful, he said. Tierra Vida was built by the Jubilee Foundation, an organization founded by the family that owned Broetje Orchards, based in Prescott. The Jubilee Foundation built 250 homes in east Pasco and its apartment complex has 140 units, said Roger Bairstow, executive director. The foundation does more than build homes. After welcoming families into the units, the organization works with residents to improve their lives, Bairstow said. It is building is a 30,000-squarefoot community center at the corner of A Street and Tierra Vida Lane near Highway 12. The center will house foundation offices and its sister groups, one overseeing a Christian elementary school and international grants and another offering leadership training with a focus on workforce development, Bairstow said. The building will have an auditorium for community education events. The foundation’s construction projects in east Pasco are almost complete, and the organization is eyeing new locations to build. “We would like to invite another community to work with us. We seek to settle where people are more marginalized and vulnerable and to set up camp to bring up the neighborhood of people,” Bairstow said. 

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City of West Richland Belmont Business District, Belmont Boulevard. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

City may hold key to Tri-City home shortage BY ROBIN WOJTANIK

As a city that doesn’t rely on sales tax revenue to fuel much of its budget, West Richland had an unexpected boost from the Covid-19 pandemic: more people began ordering online, sending “destination oriented” sales tax revenue to its coffers. “When you’re not dependent on sales tax, it’s actually benefited the city,” said Eric Mendenhall, West Richland’s community development manager. This influx resulted in a 22% increase between January and August, totaling about $62,000, compared to the same time last year. It will help offset a potential shortfall in the motor vehicle excise tax, one of the main revenue sources of its street fund. “Depending on how bad and/ or how early winter hits, the 30

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

street fund may be OK,” said Erin Gwinn, accounting manager for West Richland. “We are prepared to use general fund money in the event there is more demand than collected. The general fund has collected sufficient additional sales tax for this to happen.” West Richland runs on a $68 million budget for the 201920 biennium and is finalizing the 2020-21 budget. It continues to focus on steady residential growth and the property tax revenue that comes with it. “We’re dependent on property tax and that hasn’t changed,” Mendenhall said.

Homebuilding explosion The homebuilding explosion in West Richland includes 200 permits for single-family homes expected to come online soon,

pending final plat approval. Typically the city issues over 100 permits annually for single-family homes. West Richland estimates 2.5 residents per home, giving the upcoming development the ability to add 3% to the city’s total population, 15,710. In the past 10 years, the city’s population has grown 33%, according to state population estimates. An additional 75 multifamily units are in the initial phase and building permits soon will be issued. “Another 118 lots could also come online before the end of the year,” Mendenhall said. Just over half are for Aho Construction, the Pasco homebuilder, which is behind the Heights at Red Mountain Ranch, the largest residential development ever approved by West

Benton Fire District 4’s new Station 430, 8031 Keene Road, West Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Richland. Over the next decade, and 10 total phases, the builder will add nearly 600 homes to the Red Mountain Ranch development, off Keene Road, with Ruppert Road to the north. Homes range from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet and prices starting at $285,000. At full buildout, Red Mountain Ranch is expected to increase the city’s population by 15%. “They’re pretty much closing on a home every day their real estate office is open,” Mendenhall said. “They took down phase 1 and 2 with 105 (lots). I imagine when they get halfway through, they’re going to be applying for final plat for the next phase. They could be taking them down two (phases) at a time, maybe one at a time, depending on how the economy goes.” New neighborhoods also are expected from Viking Homes, which recently paid $1.6 million for 84 acres on a property known as Sand Hill at North Harrington Road and Twin Bridges Road. The city expects 175 homes to be built there. A representative with Viking Homes said the project isn’t likely to begin in 2021 due to off-site issues, including utility access, and predicted the first phase would begin in 2022 with

30 to 50 homes, resulting in a four-year buildout. “You’ve got all of this residential coming here. Once grocery stores and other retail see the rooftops, they’re going to be pushing to get here and locate their businesses here,” Mendenhall said.

Commercial projects West Richland averages just a handful of commercial business building permits a year, but that is changing. “I am anticipating a lot of commercial interests coming out, and they already are out kicking tires on properties in the Belmont Business District especially,” he said. The area near the city’s municipal services building is expected to soon see a convenience store and possibly a Firehouse Subs restaurant. Sun Pacific Energy pitched the project to Firehouse Subs’ corporate office with the possibility of a car wash or coffee stand also included. “We have our fingers crossed,” said Jarrod Franson, Sun Pacific’s operations manager. “The whole area has taken off. We see the future mapped out in that part of West Richland.” Besides Leona Libby Middle School, the Belmont Business

District also is home to one of Richland School District’s newest construction projects, the Teaching, Learning, and Administration Center, which will move from central Richland when construction wraps up for the project off Keene Road. The district also owns acreage nearby intended for a future high school and will open a new elementary school on Sunshine Avenue once it is finished being used as a temporary site for other schools under construction. There is no confirmed completion date for the new Tapteal Elementary that is being rebuilt following some delays. “We eagerly await its completion,” said Ty Beaver, district spokesman. The Richland School District, serving both Richland and West Richland, has developed four projects within the city’s borders since 2017. “West Richland has a lot of growth and (Richland School District) wants to be present here,” Mendenhall said. A decade ago, West Richland had 4,000 fewer residents than it does today. The increase in residents is driven by the continued appetite for new construction and an ongoing home shortage in the Tri-Cities, with 375 homes on the market in mid-September. Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Too, the city has racked up honors for livability, including a 2017 report from WalletHub that called West Richland the No. 1 place to raise a family in Washington. “West Richland remains a very attractive place to live,” Mendenhall said. Most recently, it was named the second-safest in Washington 2020 population by Home Seestimate: curity Advisor in 2020, based on total crime. The added Increase interest and growfrom 2019: ing population has required the city to continue planning for future growth by improving its current infrastructure, supporting efforts to study the roundabout at Keene Road and Bombing Range Road, now frequently used by the

15,710 2.4%


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

growing Badger Mountain South development in Richland just beyond West Richland’s city limits. The roundabout was built 20 years ago to accommodate 20 years of growth. The city also started the process to create a “complete street” of a roughly three-mile portion of Highway 224/Van Giesen Street between the U.S. Post Office and Red Mountain Road. The state kicked in funding for design work that would add sidewalks, curbs and gutters, bike lanes and turn lanes for buses. The project is unfunded and it’s only a short distance away from the last of the holdings at the old City Hall properties, with the final purchase and sale agreement in place for the former bank building. An engineering firm is expected to fill the space on Van Giesen Street.

Once grocery stores and other retail see the rooftops, they’re going to be pushing to get here and locate their businesses here. Eric Mendenhall, West Richland’s community development manager The city’s police department is leasing back its building while plans are underway to construct a new headquarters for the department at the Tri-City Raceway property. A design-build team was recently hired as a cost-savings tool and it’s likely building permits will be submitted before the end of the year. “Under normal procurement, you hire an architecture or

engineering firm to design the building, and then they hand it off to a builder, and then when the builder gets into it, if there are problems with the engineering or architecture, now you’ve got a change order, and if there are a lot of those that come up, it drives your costs up. Having them together, they work together through that design process so that it reduces those overruns and saves the city and its citizens a lot,” Mendenhall said. The police department building is on track to be completed by the end of 2021. Voters approved a bond to pay for the project in 2019. The project is valued at $12.5 million. A renewed interest in the former Tri-City Raceway includes using it for racing or turning it into an event center. The property is not listed for sale. “The city is working through some plans internally of how they need to utilize a portion of the property and then determine how we want to move forward with marketing the site,” said Rob Ellsworth, managing broker for SVN | Retter & Company. While some groups are looking at restarting racing there, Mendenhall said, “We’re seeing how viable the race track is for tourism and any economic development, but we’re not closing the door to any opportunities that may exist.” As with other cities, West Richland is anxious to hear results of the 2020 census, yet already knows the upcoming year will bring hundreds of homes and residents to its city, a trend likely to continue for years to come.  Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Port of Benton Diahann Howard, executive director of the Port of Benton, center, reviews sewer plans for an expansion of the north Horn Rapids industrial area with Miles Thomas, director of economic development, left, and Roger Wright of RGW Enterprises, right. Courtesy Ross James Photography/Port of Benton

Critical foundation in place for 2021 projects BY LAURA KOSTAD

The first months of 2020 welcomed new members to the Port of Benton team who have been busy forging a new direction. “We were in the middle of a transition,” said Diahann Howard, executive director for the port, whose jurisdiction includes a population of about 56,050 and a budget totaling $14 million in 2020. Howard, who became executive director in December 2019, hired a new core team: Joe Walker, airport manager; Ron Branine, facilities manager; Miles Thomas, director of economic development and governmental affairs; Danielle Connor, director of finance/auditor; and Summers Miya, administrative technician. “We were retooling our new team and kind of hit the ground running on some marketing and communications that we had started working on … And then Covid hit,” Howard said. The port had been working

on improving digital communications — with the community and between team members, she said. The pandemic accelerated the port’s transition to cloud-based business operations, videoconferencing and remote-work options. “We took it as an opportunity to just continue along the path of assessing the port’s needs as an organization,” she said. Though the statewide construction gridlock and social distancing mandates put many of the port’s capital projects on hold, Howard said the team was able to put added focus on tending to tenant needs. It also worked to train staff and streamline procedures and tools for managing properties, buildings and maintenance schedules. This included an updated enterprise resource planning finance system. “(It’s) all cloud-based and will be integrated with facilities and

maintenance, and that’s also integrated with all 200 leases and real estate,” Howard said. Thomas said the new system automates a lot of the processes around tenant relations and allows port staff to respond more efficiently. Another important project undertaken during the state’s lengthy stay-home order was updating the port’s website and improving communication with tenants and the community. The new website highlights more interactive details about the port’s various facilities, operations and private investment opportunities. The port also has turned its monthly newsletter into e-communication. “We saw a 159% increase in our subscriber base,” Thomas said.

More airport updates Before Covid hit, the port completed $350,000 in pavement maintenance at its airport facilities. One of its 2020 goals was Focus | Construction + Real Estate


WSU Tri-Cities Wine Science Center with test vineyard in foreground. | Courtesy Port of Benton

beginning the master planning for the Richland Airport, which will continue into 2021. Howard said only a couple of hangar spaces are available and noted an increasing need for a longer runway and other minor modifications to accommodate larger aircraft. “That’s the importance of the new master plan work that’s being done, so that we can identify areas for future opportunities and growth,” she said. She said the port is investigating options that could expand the airport to the west. At the Prosser Airport, five or six new 60-by-60 hangar spaces are planned for 2021 and currently in design. The port expects to receive funding assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration. Howard said another port goal is to better serve both general aviation and corporate business fliers. “You’ll see us trying to be 36

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

more focused on trying to recruit businesses—maybe they fly in or fly out, but using Richland or Prosser as a location for their company.” The airports include a lot more than just general aviation, Thomas said. “We support the Life Flight operations that go between Richland, Prosser and the other parts of the state … We have a lot of commercial facilities in both Prosser and Richland that are either aviation hangars, some are commercial space, or industrial space for small businesses. We have several rentals at both airports between the land and buildings.” The port is conducting a study led by a Colorado-based consulting firm to provide guidance for commercial development at the airports over the next 15 to 20 years, as well as to communicate to the FAA the airports’ ongoing need of the Richland and Prosser airports.

Airport revenue must be reinvested in the airport. “We just really want to make sure that we’re being good stewards of those assets,” Howard said. Another major transportation sector project that the port undertook in 2020 was a $2 million renovation and safety update to the Yakima River rail bridge near its confluence with the Columbia River.

North Richland opportunities The port continues to work toward developing the 1,341acre parcel that was transferred and divided equally between the port and city of Richland in 2015. This year it will apply to Washington’s Community Economic Revitalization Board and the U.S. Economic Development Administration for grants to help pay for the extension of 5,500 feet of sewer infrastructure

to serve the first 600 acres. The city and port each will contribute $400,000 to the $4.4 million project. “We have already had interest in the property, but we really need the sewer to really be able to respond to any real inquiry,” Howard said. “The other thing we did in 2020, was after a multiyear effort and working with Congressman Dan Newhouse, was to remove deed restrictions and move the port’s 72-acre Richland Industrial Center out of the Port Conveyance Program that was under Maritime (Administration),” she said. “It was $3 million, but what it has done is open up that property now so that we can more actively market and use it for recruiting for renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and commercialization.” The port also is looking into development options for 14 acres of waterfront south of Battelle Boulevard. “What can we do to make sure it’s impactful to help kind of complete or be a key cornerstone of the Research District master plan?” Thomas asked.

Chukar Cherries updated its Prosser headquarters, 320 Wine Country Road, Prosser. Courtesy Port of Benton

a conservative budget while remaining optimistic as we seek ways to support economic recovery post-Covid.” As for capital projects, the port is advancing projects in its pipeline. “We have a lot of potential projects … about $7 million of potential grant projects,” she said.

Overall, the Port of Benton team is proud of the past year’s advancements despite setbacks posed by the pandemic. Officials are optimistic about what’s ahead in 2021. “If anything, I think 2020 is going to be our year of preparation and resiliency for 2021,” Thomas said. 

Looking ahead Some other accomplishments from the past year include a renovation of the exterior façade of Chukar Cherries’ flagship store and headquarters in Prosser and repairing and cleaning up Crow Butte Park west of Paterson. Howard said that for 2021, the port will be filing for another state grant to replace the park’s circa-1976 entry station. The estimated project cost is $300,000 to $400,000, and the port will match 25%. Looking to 2021, Howard said, “We know there will be impacts and (we) are planning

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Port of Kennewick Kennewick’s Clover Island. | Courtesy Kim Fetrow Photography/Port of Kennewick

They’ve built it, now they’re ready for them to come BY LAURA KOSTAD

The dust seems to have settled at Port of Kennewick developments — for the moment. Construction of infrastructure and landscaping wrapped up for phase one of Vista Field and two additional wineries and five food trucks have moved in at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village. “We’ve built a lot of infrastructure, now we need to maintain it,” said Tim Arntzen, chief executive officer at the port, which represents some 150,000 people throughout Benton County. Arntzen said the port is shifting gears to encourage economic development through the sale of shovel-ready plots. It is promoting revitalized areas to attract private investment. “We don’t plan to do all of the development, we want to do enough to draw attention,” said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s deputy CEO. 38

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

“It’s really up to the private sector to come to us with their ideas,” she said. The wind down of the port’s capital projects was in some ways timely, given the adverse economic climate wrought by Covid-19. Arntzen said the port is planning for a 15% shortfall in revenue in the next two-year budget cycle. “It’s not based on anything scientific because the only thing we know about coronavirus is how much we don’t know,” he said. Arntzen said the port has a robust reserve fund that, based on current calculations, should cover the shortfall. The port’s 2019-20 capital budget was $14.7 million. The port calculates its budget biennially, and 2020-21 budget details were not available at press time. Despite the economic setbacks, Arntzen said Covid-19 has presented opportunities for a new way forward. “I’m very intrigued by corona-

virus in that it’s a very negative thing, but there are very teachable moments in life … I think there are very many opportunities for learning right now. Our way of doing business is in the rearview forever,” he said. As Benton County emerges from the crisis, Arntzen said he wants the port to consider hiring a consulting firm to quantify business operation changes and new market trends left in Covid19’s wake. Arntzen hopes the report will capture data about the increased appeal of attractive master planned, new urbanist communities like Kennewick’s Vista Field, as more people find themselves working from home — some permanently. New urbanism is a planning and development approach focusing on design elements like walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity to homes and accessible public spaces.

Vista Field Vista Field’s concept is conducive to a work-from-home lifestyle, given its plans for clustering shops and public amenities within short walking distance of residential dwellings, Arntzen said. “You have a taxpayer-funded outdoor office where you can sit under some trees and conduct your business,” he said. “People are going to be walking around with their cellphones and might be conducting multimillion-dollar transactions, and if you and I were passing by, we would say it looks like they’re just dipping their feet in the creek,” he said. Bader Inglima said the infrastructure is all in for the first phase and the port is wrapping up paperwork with contractor, Total Site Services Inc. of Richland. Though the port has received interest from prospective entrepreneurs, shovel-ready parcels have yet to be registered in the Benton County records. Arntzen said the port will call for proposals so those wanting to be part of Vista Field have equal opportunity to be considered. “I would like to see five or six really interested parties and then see a few of them move forward,” Arntzen said. “We would really like to see some folks who are interested in New Urbanism.” Though the Arts Center Task Force scrapped plans to build at Vista Field, Arntzen remains optimistic. “I think it is a very good site for another public facility; it could be another, potential fabulous location for another high-level private sector investment,” he said. The port also has plans to renovate three existing airplane hangars on site to lease and potentially build a gateway feature at Vista Field’s entrance.

A water feature runs through the Port of Kennewick’s Vista Field redevelopment site. Courtesy Port of Kennewick

Columbia Gardens Shovel-ready parcels are available for sale at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village in Kennewick, including riverfront parcels and others with high visibility along Columbia Drive. Arntzen suggested the parcels would be well-suited to more wineries and tasting rooms, small restaurants or bistros, a bike shop, “or any number of things that don’t have to be necessarily wine-related,” he said, emphasizing that it’s also an artisan village. “We’re looking for things that will bring vibrancy in.” The wine industry wanted to draw people to the neighborhood. The port hopes the tasting room atmosphere will draw complementary businesses and possibly

residential development. “It’s a work in progress, but in five years it’s going to be even more successful,” Arntzen said. In winter 2020, the port completed the construction of two more winery tasting rooms for Gordon Estate Winery and Cave B Estate Winery. About a half dozen food trucks also joined the scene at the Food Truck Plaza, adjacent to the new tasting rooms along the waterfront trail, including Swampy’s BBQ, Ninja Bistro, Don Taco, Ann’s Best Creole and Soul Food, and Bobablastic Tri-Cities. Haven Flower Farm also has hosted a pop-up at Columbia Gardens.

Clover Island Kennewick’s Clover Island has Focus | Construction + Real Estate


been thriving thanks to increased visitor traffic during the pandemic. “The island has been popular for people who want to get out of the house and walk,” Arntzen said, adding that the marina has been bustling as well. The port has seen a lot of usage from the 15- to 30-year-old age group. “I think they’ve found and made it their place. I’m impressed that the younger people find something inspirational about that place,” he said. As the Army Corps of Engineers prepares to go to bid within the coming year on the completion of shoreline restoration efforts at Clover Island, the port has been updating its Historic Waterfront Development District master plan, which dates back to the early 2000s. “We’ve worked with the firm

Food Truck Plaza at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village. | Courtesy Port of Kennewick

that did the original master plan,” Arntzen said. “We offered them a challenge: Let’s try to be the first to do one without face-to-face public comment.” He said the port received triple the input they had hoped to get. “We beat Vista Field progress by multiple magnitudes … it

really set the bar,” he said. The revised master plan will focus on the port’s Clover Island, Columbia Gardens, Willows and former Cable Greens properties. “What we do on our properties will create some vibrancy for what others in the district are doing,” Bader Inglima said. 

Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Port of Pasco James Sexton, owner of JMS Development, stands at the Port of Pasco’s Osprey Pointe, where he plans to develop a mix of commercial and residential buildings. Above is a rendering of a proposed hotel and marketplace at the site. Photo by Elsie Puig, rendering courtesy JMS Development

Industrial land in high demand BY ELSIE PUIG

The Port of Pasco’s Processing Center is at capacity, and it has sold all the lots at the Foster Wells Business Park. It’s also moving ahead with plans to develop Osprey Pointe and a new industrial center. The port knows industrial land is in high demand and has been working to accommodate growth in this sector. Meanwhile, the port also is grappling with budget challenges stemming from lost revenue from airline travel. Within the past six months, 17 years since the first Foster Wells lot sold in 2003, the port 42

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

sold the last remaining parcels. New tenants at the business park off Highway 395 include Pioneer Packaging, All Seasons Contractor, Kenyon Zero Storage and Callies Welding and Fabrication. The new tenants joined Second Harvest, Rock Placing Company, Volm, Teton Gold and PECCAS LLC. “We sold eight lots in the last year, so that put us on the fast track to purchase an additional park,” said Mayra Reyna, the port’s director of properties, referring to the new 300-acre Reimann Industrial Center, a mile north of the Pasco Processing Center. There’s been an increase

in demand for industrial lots, Reyna said. “We’ve been in a slump for a couple of years where we did not see a lot of sales, but all of a sudden there was an increase in interest, and those interested knew they had to come in quick because prices would continue to escalate since there is less inventory out there.” “Industrial businesses seem to be weathering the effects of Covid,” said Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director. The travel industry — not so much.

Tri-Cities Airport The Tri-Cities Airport, like

other airports across the country, has had to navigate a sharp decline in passenger travel after state-mandated closures took effect in March to stem the spread of coronavirus. Hayden said he predicts it will take nearly two years for travel volume to reach pre-Covid levels, noting air travel is running about 70% of 2019 volumes. Still, that’s a remarkable return for an airport that saw passenger traffic drop a staggering 95% in March. “It has been steadily increasing since then,” Hayden said. The airport received $5.8 million in federal assistance thanks to a coronavirus rescue package passed by Congress in March. It offset operating costs and debt payments to make up for the lost passenger and landing fees caused by the Covid-19 slowdown. “That is keeping us in the black at this point, and we’re hoping those dollars will get us through the year,” Hayden said. The port, which has more than 88,000 people living within its boundaries, oversees a $41.5 million budget. “We might need to look for additional assistance or make further cuts. We have cut all capital projects we don’t have grants for and had to reduce staff,” Hayden said. Some of those capital improvement projects included landscaping work around the terminal and parking lot improvements on Terminal Loop Road. The port was able to offer qualifying businesses relief through its own rent deferral program. Hayden said all the airlines and concessionaires operating inside the airport have taken the port up on the offer. But the port’s belt-tightening hasn’t stalled construction on

Randy Hayden, executive director of the Port of Pasco, left, and Mayra Reyna, director of properties, stand inside a warehouse at the port-owned Big Pasco Industrial Center. Photo by Elsie Puig

the Taxiway A project at the airport. When complete, it will create 4,200 feet of new taxiway, 4,200 feet of rehabilitated taxiway and bring the airport in line with current Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Reimann Industrial Center In October 2019, the port bought 300 acres of land for $6.5 million for the future home of the Reimann Industrial Center. The deal came after a long search for land close to the highway, utilities and the BNSF Railway network. The land sits between Highway 395 and Railroad Avenue a mile north of Pasco. Funding came from the port’s Economic Development Opportunity Fund and a $2.25 million loan from the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Board. The purchase included water rights, which can be used for agricultural and industrial purposes. Master planning for the area is underway, said Hayden, with the first phase of design and environmental assessment expected to be completed by December 2020. Construction won’t begin

until spring 2021. The Reimann Industrial Center will have nine 20- to 40-acre lots and 13 smaller lots, each consisting of 2 to 5 acres. It's expected to inject $5 million in additional property taxes, including $3 million for schools. It could cost $20 million to $30 million for infrastructures like roads, sewer, rail and power to serve the site. “It will likely have food processors and other ag-related industries coming in,” Hayden said. “With this new development we’re not only satisfying a demand but we’re also bringing in family-wage jobs to our community, supporting our local growers and the increase in taxes will support our community services.”

Osprey Pointe The port also has partnered with JMS Development to develop 55 acres at Osprey Pointe — a 110-acre waterfront property along the south side of East Ainsworth Avenue overlooking the Columbia River. Osprey Pointe has land available for lease or sale — currently for five tenants — for office, Focus | Construction + Real Estate


research and development facilities, and commercial uses. “The vision is for a vibrant mixed-use development that will include public amenities along the waterfront,” Hayden said. “This is a big project,” said James Sexton, president of JMS Development, based in Kennewick. “It will be a living and working community. There will be enough jobs that people will be able to bike, walk or even kayak to work.” The site plan includes three buildings with 72 residential condo units, four buildings with 60 condos, an 80,000-squarefoot event center, an outside arena, and an 86,000-square-foot marketplace that can accommodate 120 vendors. There also will be a hotel with 150 to 200 rooms.

Sexton said the entire development will take five to seven years to complete. He hopes to start building the marketplace in fall 2020 and have it ready by spring. He said is waiting for the city of Pasco to issue rezoning permits before beginning the residential units.

Big Pasco The port’s Reyna said building improvements and updates to the Big Pasco Industrial Center warehouses are underway. The project includes repairing three miles of industrial roadway within the park and adding stormwater management. “We’re trying to adapt the buildings to today’s uses. The upgrades and improvements to our warehouses have been well received,” she said.

Industrial businesses seem to be weathering the effects of Covid. Randy Hayden, executive director, Port of Pasco Big Pasco is at 88% capacity, with three warehouses left. Another development in the works is The Landing LLC, within the Tri-Cities Airport Business Center, on the corner of Argent Road and Varney Lane. Kennewick developer John Hawley hopes to break ground on the first of two buildings in late 2020. The first project is a four-story multitenant commercial building, and the second is a six-store retail building. 

SERVICE & REPAIR | RETROFITTING | REMODELING | COMMERCIAL | WEATHERIZATION TRI-CITIES | 509-586-1177 1238 Columbia Park Trail, Richland, WA WALLA WALLA | 509-529-5110 904 N. Fourth Ave., Walla Walla, WA

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K-12 Education Richland School District Teaching, Learning & Administration Center, 6972 Keene Road, West Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Pandemic doesn’t slow new school projects BY JEFF MORROW

It’s been an unprecedented year for Tri-City public school districts in the wake of the pandemic. Though students left classrooms in March 2020 and then started the year with remote learning, the districts’ construction projects have been chugging along.

Richland School District The most recent state data shows 2019-20 enrollment for the Richland School District at 14,294 students, with 731 teachers. The district’s general fund budget for this school year is $193 million, said Ty Beaver, the district’s director of communications. But with unknown tax impacts from the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in March, the district is proceeding cautiously. “District officials began preparing for potential impacts to state funding soon after school buildings were closed in midMarch in response to Covid-19,” 46

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Beaver said. “This included limiting spending on nonessential materials and services and holding off on hiring for any positions.” Meanwhile, Richland has been moving forward on the construction projects funded with a 2017 voter-approved $99 million bond — with a possible $42 million in matching state funds. District staff expect to move into the $11.6 million Teaching, Learning & Administration Center — the new administration building for most district-level staff — in October 2020. The new center at 6972 Keene Road in West Richland replaces the district offices on Snow Avenue in Richland. There have been some construction delays at the elementary schools. “The new Tapteal Elementary (a $19.9 million project in West Richland) was initially scheduled to be completed in time for the 2020-21 school year,” Beaver said. “Delays related to Covid-19 contributed to the project taking longer than anticipated, though

construction is continuing, and we eagerly await its completion.” Beaver said construction of the new Badger Mountain Elementary will move forward when Tapteal students and staff move into their new building, as Badger Mountain students and staff can then temporarily move into the elementary school on Sunshine Avenue in West Richland. “And we continue to evaluate the best timeline for construction of Elementary 12, which would be built in the Badger Mountain South development off I-82,” Beaver said. The costs for both the new Badger Mountain and Elementary 12 have yet to be determined. The district is remodeling Richland High School’s auditorium, a project that costs $9.4 million. “The auditorium renovation has begun with demolition inside the building and the first step of installing a new roof,” Beaver said. “The project is making good progress and is expected to wrap

Ray Reynolds Middle School, 9507 Burns Road, Pasco. | Courtesy Pasco School District

up in summer of 2021.” Work is progressing on improvements for both Hanford High’s athletic facilities and Fran Rish Stadium at Richland High. “District officials have worked with school staff, students and community members to develop the scopes of those projects and develop plans,” Beaver said. Both projects are currently still on schedule. Improvements at Hanford are expected to begin in spring 2021, with Fran Rish following in summer 2022. Hanford High’s $6 million project should be completed by August 2022, and the $10 million Fran Rish Stadium project by August 2023. While capital projects are important, very few students are using any facilities, as the district opened the school year with distance learning. That was expected to change before the end of the school year. “The Richland School Board is closely monitoring our county’s case rate so that a decision can be made promptly to bring students back for in-person learning,” Beaver said. “At the same time, we want any return to our buildings to be done

safely, and so we are working with local health authorities to be sure that our efforts to prepare classrooms as well as other school spaces are sufficient as our efforts to assure staff, students and families that we have good protocols and procedures in place.” Asked if social distancing could be a future factor in any new building project, Beaver said, “The board and district administrators are mindful of the potential future need for physical distancing in schools but have not had specific decisions regarding the issue in future construction projects.” As for future needs and future bond measures, Beaver said the district is taking a close look. “There’s strong community interest in construction of a third high school,” he said. “Our secondary (middle and high school enrollment) remains strong and both Richland and Hanford high are overcrowded, so there is a need. The board is preparing to look at the overall picture of our future needs for space for multiple programs.” That growth could come from south Richland. “District officials are monitor-

ing a few housing development projects so we can be prepared for future impacts to our enrollment,” Beaver said.

Pasco School District Pasco School District student enrollment is at 18,410, with 1,328 certificated employees and another 774 classified employees. The district and the school board are keeping an eye on the $274 million budget. That means possibly not hiring for vacant job openings and perhaps cutting costs elsewhere. Still, the district has forged ahead on projects approved with the 2017 bond measure, which totaled $99.5 million and $44.5 million in state matching funds. Doug Carl, a former Kennewick School District employee who now has his own company, was hired on a one-year contract to run Pasco’s capital projects department. He replaces employee Randy Nunamaker, who retired in July 2020. It’s Carl’s job to see through the remaining bond projects. And he says so far so good. Columbia River Elementary, Focus | Construction + Real Estate


which cost $28.5 million, and Ray Reynolds Middle School, which cost $46.5 million, are ready for students when in-person classes resume. “Columbia River is slated to open this fall,” Carl said. “Ray Reynolds, we were far enough along when the pandemic hit, and construction workers kept going.” Carl said when the state started shutting down projects in March to stem coronavirus spread, he and his staff kept working. “We kind of deemed ourselves essential, and we were right. The (state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) and the governor’s office said we were,” he said. The one project slightly behind schedule is the Stevens Middle School remodel, with a cost estimate of $39.7 million. Of that, $21.1 million comes from the bond, with a state match of $18.6 million. “Stevens Middle School is about two or three months behind. We’re supposed to move in over Christmas break. We lost one day at the entire site when someone tested positive, so we shut it down,” Carl said. Asked about the future of using social distancing when preparing for newer buildings, Carl said that’s a tough question. “The state just doesn’t have the funds to make bigger buildings,” he said. “Those that are approved, the question is: Does it make future education safe?” In addition to the new schools, the bond paid for $900,000 in safety and security improvements at the front entrances at several schools. The one remaining project is transportation. Nunamaker had previously pushed for a few more bays and new buildings for mechanics. The district has 162 buses and

Kennewick High School, 201 S. Garfield St., Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

only three maintenance bays, far fewer than either Kennewick or Richland. The new facility would cost $3 million. “Transportation has kind of taken a back seat, but it’s starting to move forward,” Carl said. The district is looking to cooperate with the Finley and Burbank districts on this project. “Those two districts will finalize their decision soon. They don’t have a maintenance facility,” Carl said. With the Pasco area continuing to see growth, the district is preparing to build a third high school. When that next bond will be, no one is sure, Carl said. “They bought more land for an additional high school site. Now they have two (sites),” he said.

Kennewick School District Student enrollment in the Kennewick School District for 2019-20 was 19,429, with 1,131 teachers in classrooms, according to state data. The district, which is managing a $277 million budget for the 2020-21 school year, is overseeing several large construction projects approved after voters passed a $125 million bond in February 2019.

The biggest is the $87 million construction of a new Kennewick High School, on track to be ready by August 2021. Additions at Kamiakin and Southridge high schools are similar in that both schools are getting 12 new classrooms and upgrades or additions to their athletics facilities. Kamiakin’s project comes in at $14 million for about 23,000 square feet, while the Southridge project sits at $21 million for 30,000 square feet. Both projects are on schedule and should be done in August 2021. The $14.8 million second phase of Amistad Elementary is completed. “Teachers are in the classrooms,” said Robyn Chastain, the district’s director of communications and public relations. “There is still some landscaping and grounds work being finished on this project.” All of the capital projects are on schedule, with the exception of the Tri-Tech project, Chastain said. “Tri-Tech is running about a month behind schedule due to impacts from Covid-19 and was expected to be completed in September. This does not impact the school year because students Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Amistad Elementary School, 123 S. Kent St. | Photo by Chad Utecht

are in remote learning.” Chastain said the current Covid-19 situation “does not change the scope of the projects.” Although students began the school year in a distance learning model, Chastain said the district expects that to change. “We are anticipating that students will return to a hybrid learning model sometime this year, with half of the students attending two days per week and


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

the other half attending two days per week,” she said. “This will meet the Department of Health’s current distancing requirement of six feet. We will also be using non-classroom school spaces during the hybrid model to meet the distance requirement. If the health department decides to reduce the distancing requirements for schools, we should be able to accommodate all staff and students

in the buildings.” The remaining two projects for the 2019 bond are further down the road: building an 18th elementary school, scheduled for completion between 2020-25 and the remodel or replacement of Ridge View Elementary, scheduled for completion in 2024. As Kennewick continues to grow, there will be a need for more schools. “When and where a new school may be built will depend on housing growth resulting in increased enrollment,” Chastain said. The district owns properties for future schools at Bob Olson Parkway, 10th Avenue/Hansen Park and Badger South. “The need for another bond will be driven by enrollment growth,” Chastain said. “At this time, we estimate we will need to run another bond in 2025.” 

Higher Education WSU Tri-Cities academic building, 2710 Crimson Way, Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

CBC, WSU-Tri-Cities building for a future when students return to campus BY JEFF MORROW

The Tri-Cities’ higher education campuses don’t have many students on campus this fall. The coronavirus pandemic sent the majority to remote learning platforms at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College for the fall. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t planning for their students’ eventual return to campus. Both institutions are moving ahead with building projects on their main campuses. WSU Tri-Cities is anticipating a spring 2021 opening of a $30 million academic building. CBC begins work on a $30 million student recreation center in 2021. There are other smaller capital projects going on and plenty of effort assisting students affected by coronavirus.

WSU Tri-Cities WSU Tri-Cities has yet to get a firm number of students attending classes this fall semester — the majority are taking virtual classes. Chancellor Sandra Haynes estimated the number to be about 1,800. Fall enrollment totaled 1,813 in 2019 and 1,841 in 2018. WSU Tri-Cities employs 77 certified staff.

That does not count adjunct faculty, plus another 148 staff members. The Richland campus has an overall budget of $25 million but the operational budget is more like $22 million due to pending cuts prompted by the pandemic, Haynes said. “(WSU President) Kirk Schulz has asked each department for a 10% decrease in our budgets,” she said. “We’ll do that by not hiring people for vacant positions, and we can make cuts in noninstructional services. So freezing of hiring and noninstructional cuts is how we’ll make those cuts.” Meanwhile, construction of a $30.4 million academic building, funded by the state Legislature is underway. The building will house 12 laboratories for physics, biology, chemistry and anatomy/physiology, as well as two 96-seat classrooms, and a central gathering area with stadium seating for large groups, presentations and community events. Haynes said the school is on the same timeline, with completion in 2021. “We had actually done a lot of the groundwork last fall (of 2019) so we’ve always been on schedule

with this project,” Haynes said. Though the pandemic did not affect the construction schedule, officials have added new features. “We had planned for this building before Covid with state-of-theart technology,” Haynes said. “We’ve built in Zoom capability in all of our classrooms. If a student can’t make it to class for some reason, they can join by Zoom, or see the recorded class session on Zoom.” Haynes said that Covid has made WSU officials look further down the road at what future buildings could look like. “Last spring we did some scenario planning,” she said. “What if we have to stay virtual? What if we have face-to-face learning? What changes will be made if we have a hybrid model? We’ve planned for all of those scenarios, so we’re ready for just about anything. But when we make plans, we’re first concerned about student and faculty safety. How do we deliver that?” Haynes added that one thing school officials now know is that technology has enabled different types of learning experiences. “No longer does everybody have to be in the classroom,” she said. “But one thing, too, is not Focus | Construction + Real Estate


everything can be done with technology. You can’t put an IV in someone while online. More and more, the newer buildings will be using newer technology.” In August 2020, the school received a $100,000 donation to the WSU Wine Science Center from the Paul Lauzier Charitable Foundation. “This gift and matching funds will allow us to complete a laboratory and equip it,” Haynes said. “The Wine Science Center will be complete. It’s a teaching laboratory, not research, so there will be classes in chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology.” The branch campus also is looking at ways to work with the local agriculture industry. “We want to do right by students who work in the ag industry. We’re looking for a partnership,” Haynes said. She also underscored the importance of capitalizing on the

campus’ locations at the Tri-Cities Research District to bolster its science, technology, engineering and math programs with the STEM community. Haynes said WSU Tri-Cities officials are well aware of student hardships in the wake of the pandemic. STCU and Battelle donated $60,000 in 2020 to help students. “For things like if a student’s car breaks down, or a gap to fill a paycheck, or if someone gets sick and needs support,” Haynes said. The school also offers a laptop loaner program, Wi-Fi hotspots around campus and an on-campus food bank. “Lamb Weston is tremendous to work with on the food bank project,” Haynes said. “Food insecurity can hit one in five students.” The school also offers food drop-offs to sites in Pasco and Kennewick for students who can’t get out to the north Richland

campus. The idea, Haynes said, is WSU Tri-Cities wants to help students who are having a rough time. It’s the right thing to do. “We want to encourage students to stay in school,” she said. “Let us help.”

Columbia Basin College Up to 5,500 full-time equivalent students were expected to be enrolled in fall 2020 quarter, which began Sept. 21, said Jay Frank, CBC’s assistant vice president, communications and external relations. The majority are attending via online classes. In 2019, fall enrollment was 7,344 compared to 7,275 students in 2018. Some students will attend in-person, depending on their class subject matter. CBC officials are keeping a close eye on area coronavirus rates

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Columbia Basin College, 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

to determine the status of future classes and its budget. CBC is projecting an operating budget of $50.8 million for the 2020-21 school year. “CBC continues to monitor the ever-changing impacts of Covid-19 and the financial impact it has on the state as a whole as well as CBC directly,” said Brian Dexter, interim vice president of administrative services. “As far as our response, CBC is bringing together a resource


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

review committee in the fall to analyze projected cuts and make recommendations for not just possible strategic cuts but also strategic investments in instances where we need to pivot to meet the needs of our students and the community.” The biggest capital project on the horizon for CBC this school year is a $30 million student recreation center. The school’s associated student body voted to approve the project

in fall 2018. The 80,000-square-foot center will be located where CBC’s tennis courts are now, southeast of the basketball gymnasium. Features will include a smaller court with a dasher board system, an e-sports room for multiplayer video gaming, a basketball gymnasium that seats 1,000 to 1,200 people, and another basketball practice court. On the second floor will be a fitness center and office space. An outdoor recreation center on the first floor will be available for students to check out tents, sleeping bags and other outdoor gear. Originally, the ground was set to be broken in April 2020. It was pushed back to September 2020. It’s unclear how the delays affect the intended opening date of June 2021. Meanwhile, the school did open the $4.9 million remodeled fourth floor of the Rand Wortman Medical Science Center in January 2020 at 940 Northgate Drive in Richland, across the street from the Richland Public Library. CBC moved its dental hygiene program from Pasco, and with the added space, can see more patients. As for future projects, the school is asking the Washington state Legislature for a new performing arts building. The request is for $2.4 million for design work and $34.3 million for construction. However, as part of Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges 2021-23 budget request — which totals $776 million — CBC’s request ranked 33 out of 39. 

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