Focus: Construction & Real Estate in the Tri-Cities

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Construction + Real Estate in the Tri-Cities A 2 0 1 sp e cialty p u b l ication of the Tri-Cities Area J o urnal of B u siness


Tight home supply drives up prices COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Private investment dominates the picture, for now




Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

A 2021 specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

In this issue 4

Market Overview


Port of Pasco


City of Richland


Residential Growth


Tri-Cities Airport


City of West Richland


Commercial Real Estate




Benton & Franklin counties


Port of Benton


City of Kennewick


Port of Kennewick


City of Pasco

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Kristina Lord Publisher

Wendy Culverwell Editor

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Chad Utecht Advertising Account Manager

Vanessa Guzmán Graphic Designer

COVER: A worker guides the placement of a structure steel element in the construction of a warehouse at the intersection of Foster Wells Road and Industrial Drive in Pasco. | 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.

Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Market Overview 2021: The year the Tri-Cities hit 300,000­– and its stride BY WENDY CULVERWELL


istory will remember the early 2020s for the devastating coronavirus pandemic, the shutdowns, the economic chaos. It would be easy to assign the booming construction scene of 2021 to a Covid-19 recovery. The bounce back may be real, but population and job growth are the real drivers of the diverse array of construction occurring in the Tri-Cities in late 2021. And with thousands of new jobs coming to Pasco next year, population and job growth will keep driving residential, commercial and civic construction. Karl Dye, president of the TriCity Development Council (TRIDEC), said construction was on the rise before the pandemic. But he doesn’t dismiss the Covid-19 impact. Shutdowns and supply chain issues led to a bottleneck 4

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that is resolving itself.

Population boom But a growing population is undeniable. The Tri-Cities is the fourth largest metro area in Washington, after Puget Sound (which includes Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue), Spokane and Vancouver. And it is gaining attention. “The more we grow our population, the greater awareness that we have,” he said. “It’s becoming kind of a perfect storm.” With more than 300,000 residents, the region is gaining new attention from companies that aren’t interested in smaller markets. Amber Hanchette, director of real estate operations for the Port of Kennewick, noted the importance of growth during a routine presentation during a port meeting on Sept. 14. The topic: A market assess-

ment commissioned to help establish what prices the port will charge for development sites at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village and Vista Field. “Our population has pushed over 300,000,” she told the commission, by way of explaining pricing and real estate activity. “That’s what becomes a key indicator for a lot of companies that aren’t looking at smaller communities but are looking at population numbers as a threshold.” Two newcomers are telling examples, she said. Crumbl, the Utah-based cookie chain, opened stores in Richland and Kennewick. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is replacing a former car dealership at Highway 395 and West Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick – its first-ever TriCity location. While welcome, those projects pale compared to the big ones taking place in Pasco and to a

The window of a home under construction on Thebes Street in West Richland frames a view of Red Mountain. | Photo by Kristina Lord

lesser extent elsewhere. Collectively, three food processing plants (Darigold Inc., Reser’s Fine Foods and Local Bounti) will employ more than 1,500. Add in two Amazon Inc. distribution warehouses near Sacajawea State Park and the local workforce will easily expand by 3,000. And those don’t factor in the amount of residential and retail development across the city. Pasco has its Broadmoor area, where Issaquah-based Costco Inc. is expected to – finally – add a second store once concerns about local roads are addressed. Construction hotspots dot the four cities. Richland has its Horn Rapids and Duportail areas. West Richland has the Belmont Business District and the Heights at Red Mountain Ranch. Kennewick has its Bob Olson Parkway corridor and Southridge. Pasco has its

Our population has pushed over 300,000. That’s what becomes a key indicator for a lot of companies that aren’t looking at smaller communities but are looking at population numbers as a threshold. Amber Hanchette, director of real estate operations, Port of Kennewick thriving industrial district and Broadmoor areas. Private investment could top $1 billion. Darigold alone is expected to spend $450 million to $500 million on its protein and butter plant.

Infrastructure investment Private investment is dominant, but public sector invest-

ment is considerable. Beyond the Hanford site, where the U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to start up its $17 billion waste vitrification plant, local governments are busy keeping up. The four cities and three ports are pouring hundreds of millions more into the civic infrastructure and amenities the region needs to function and to keep up with a growing population. Pasco and Kennewick are building long-awaited road projects – Lewis Street overpass for Pasco and Ridgeline Drive underpass for Kennewick. Both received significant support from Connecting Washington, the gas tax-funded transportation package authorized by the 2015 Legislature. Pasco is upgrading water (drinking) and wastewater (sewage) treatment plants to modernize and expand capacity. And it’s spending tens of mil- Focus | Construction + Real Estate


The Tri-Cities is known for its expansive waterfront vistas. This one showcases the confluence of the Columbia and Yakima rivers. Photo by Scott Butner Photography

lions on its industrial process wastewater facility, critical to food processors. Pasco utility ratepayers will be relieved to hear the food processors that use it will bear the $31 million cost. Kennewick will complete a 6 million-gallon water reservoir


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in the Creekstone area – 20th Avenue and Irving Street – in mid-2022. The $15 million project will retire an aging tank and provide more reliable service to a fast-growing end of town.

Home supply vs. demand No construction roundup

would be complete without a nod to home construction. Tri-City permitting agencies authorized 1,200 permits with a combined value of $390 million in the first eight months of 2021, according to Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities. That’s more new homes authorized in the same period each year going back to 2016. Demand continues to outpace supply, with homes selling in less than 10 days, on average. Lola Franklin, CEO of the Tri-City Association of Realtors, said one agent reported receiving 27 offers on a single home in a highly competitive market that has sent the average price of a home above $400,000. The wave confirms the TriCities’ status as one of Washington’s metro areas to watch. With just over 300,000 people, the Tri-Cities trails the Puget Sound area (4 million), Spokane/Spokane Valley/Coeur d’Alene (735,000) and Vancouver (354,000) for population. Vancouver is part of the Portland metro area, with 2.5 million people. 

Residential Growth Tight home supply drives up prices BY WENDY CULVERWELL


omebuilders face familiar headwinds in 2021 – finding enough places to build new homes, hiring enough workers to build them and sourcing enough building materials to build with. Add in Washington’s new energy code, which took effect this year, and it’s a challenging time to be a residential developer. But the local and regional builders operating in the Tri-Cities are finding ways to press ahead. Despite the many ways projects can go sideways, homebuilders managed to pull more permits in the first eight months of 2021 – 1,200 – than in the same period for the five years prior, including the record-busting pre-pandemic year 2019. Pasco, among the region’s fastest-growing cities, led the way with 296, followed by Richland (269), West Richland (206) and Kennewick (171). 8

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The rising numbers reflect a unique but not temporary moment for the Tri-Cities. A history of underbuilding here and across the U.S. means there are too few homes to accommodate a population that passed the 300,000 mark in 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. New construction and “resales” – the industry term for the sale of previously owned homes – sell almost immediately. The average time on the market is under 10 days. Inventory is measured in fractions of a month. In a healthy market, brokers like to see enough listings to satisfy current demand for five to six months. Locally, 1,200 listings is considered the sweet spot for a balanced market. In June, there were just 206 homes for sale.

Buyer frustration The short supply is driving up prices and leading to bidding

wars, a frustrating situation for buyers. The combination gives homebuilders little room to navigate, said Jeff Losey, executive director of Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, which tracks building permits in Benton and Franklin counties. Figures for Burbank, in Walla Walla County, are not included. While rising prices – new homes now cost an average $486,000 – offer builders some breathing room, supply chain issues disrupt schedules and contracts. Losey said builders have less control over their final costs or even when a home will be finished. For buyers, that means less choice. Builders aren’t pre-selling homes before they build them, a practice that lets buyers customize layouts, appliance packages, paint schemes and make other personal touches. Early in the pandemic, builders

Residential development south of Bob Olson Parkway in the Southridge area of Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

had to honor pre-sale contracts and saw profits disappear as lumber and other material costs soared. “What we’re seeing is a propensity to not sell until it’s nearly finished, and final costs are known,” he said. “The builders don’t have the luxury of selling it and acquiescing to what the buyer wants.” Waiting has another benefit. It ensures non-cash buyers qualify for mortgages. If a buyer qualifies for a $500,000 mortgage early in the process and the final cost rises by $30,000, there’s no guarantee a lender will raise the loan amount.

Hot housing market The rapid pace appears to be drawing the Tri-Cities to the attention of national builders, who aren’t currently active here. D.R. Horton, a leading national builder with offices in Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver, is eyeing building sites in the Tri-Cities, Losey said.

D.R. Horton didn’t acknowledge a request for comment. “We might have our first national builder coming in soon,” Losey said. The Heights at Red Mountain Ranch, the 789-home subdivision in West Richland by Aho Development, is the region’s hottest construction zone. The city issued 206 single-family permits in the first eight months of 2021, compared to 70 in the same period in 2020. In Kennewick, development is extending beyond the Southridge area along Bob Olson Parkway, while Pasco is starting to see homes built in the newly opened Broadmoor area, west of Road 100-Broadmoor Boulevard. The area’s cities and counties are under pressure to approve new subdivisions, Losey said. “The National Association of Home Builders has been saying for years that we’ve been underbuilding. That underbuilding is coming home to roost,” he said.

Challenges stack up Washington’s new energy code, which was implemented in February, is another unwelcome challenge. The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), which has asked Gov. Jay Inslee to suspend it until April 2022, said the tight new codes add $15,000 to $20,000 to the price of a new home. The problem is exacerbated by delays in getting supplies, a problem that affects everything from furnace and heat pumps to windows, insulators and electrical service panels. “Homes are more important than ever. Providing relief from these changes will help stabilize the supply chain and save current homebuyers tens of thousands of dollars,” said Tracy Doriot, president of BIAW and a homebuilder. For the Realtors tasked with selling new and existing homes, the supply-demand imbalance is on painful display, said Lola Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Future home sites form a giant staircase up the south side of Little Badger Mountain. This southwest-facing photo was taken from Falconcrest Loop in Richland. | Photo by Wendy Culverwell

Mid-Columbia single-family building permits, year-to-date through August.

2021 1,200

2017 1,010

2019 1,109 2020 1,018

2018 1,047

2016 974

Source: Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities

Franklin, CEO of the Tri-City Association of Realtors. Franklin recalls asking a casual question during a recent member meeting: Who received the most offers on a single listing? The winning answer: 27. “All the things we thought would slow down or stop during Covid did the opposite,” she said, calling the past year the busiest she’s seen in her 10 years with the 10

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

organization. Realtors are grateful to homebuilders for adding to the inventory, but the market remains tight and it’s going to get even tighter. At least 3,000 new jobs are coming to the Tri-Cities, courtesy new food processing plants planned for Darigold Inc., Reser’s Fine Foods and Local Bounti, as well as two Amazon Inc. distribution centers that will begin hiring

in 2022. In a tight housing market, job growth linked to the new plants and other developments (like the new Costco in Pasco) will skew the supply-demand imbalance even further. “It’s not a crisis, but it is cause for alarm,” Franklin said. “Everyone is leaning on builders to build as fast as they can.” 

Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Commercial Real Estate Private investment dominates commercial picture, for now BY WENDY CULVERWELL


rivate investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Tri-City commercial construction in a shift from recent years, when school construction and public projects, such as Richland’s Duportail Street bridge and fire stations, dominated the sector. Fueled by low interest rates and a backlog of projects booked in the busy pre-pandemic days, privately funded development is overtaking those sponsored by government entities. The major private projects dotting the Mid-Columbia include industrial, neighborhood and 12

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retail centers. Pasco is a regional hub of activity, but Kennewick, Richland and West Richland have their share too. “Residential can’t keep up. Commercial is looking at growth areas for future expansion,” said Joel Bouchey, regional director and public policy coordinator for Inland Northwest, the Kennewick-based chapter of Associated General Contractors of America.

Construction cycles Construction tends to occur in cycles, with public sector work such as schools, roads, water plants and fire stations filling the order books and then giving way to private. With Congress weigh-

ing a $1 trillion – or possibly more – infrastructure package, public sector work will return with a vengeance. The cycle is not as pronounced in the Tri-Cities, where construction – and demolition – at the Hanford nuclear site dampens the impact. But the $2+ billion annual Hanford budget does not completely tame the cycle. Beyond the secured expanse of the 580-square-mile reservation, contractors are digging in. Key projects that will keep the industry busy over the coming year are: • The first of two Amazon distribution centers, each with more than 1 million square feet,

Warehouse facility under construction near 2000 block of Robertson Drive, adjacent to American Rock Products, in Richland. Photo by Scott Butner Photography

is under construction north of Sacajawea State Park in Pasco. Ryan Development of Bellevue is the builder. • Reser’s Fine Foods is building a 250,000-squarefoot processing plant in Pasco to complement its existing 110,000-square-foot plant nearby. • Local Bounti Inc., a Montana ag startup focused on cultivating lettuce and herbs in high-tech greenhouses, is building a $40 million complex of greenhouses consisting of more than 200,000 square feet. • Darigold Inc., the Seattle dairy co-op, has all but finalized plans for its $500 million,

400,000-square-foot butter and protein – milk drying – plant north of Pasco. It is scrutinizing Washington environmental regulations before completing a land deal with the Port of Pasco. And the list goes on. The Pointes – Osprey in Pasco and Willow in Richland – are seeing development that will bring homes and more to the Columbia River shoreline. A Vancouver, Washington, developer is investing $50 million to create the Resort at Hansen Park, a residential development south of Columbia Center mall at West 10th Avenue in Kennewick. Through August, local building agencies authorized $440

million of non-residential work, according to figures compiled by Home Builders Association of the Tri-Cities. “I am very excited for everything happening in Pasco and all the drivers they’ve been able to get in place,” said Bouchey, who reports big projects like Darigold and Amazon already sparking a wave of smaller “trickle down” projects.

Pandemic pivot Bouchey said there’s been a clear pivot since the dark days of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic idled construction sites and sent jitters through the economy. Focus | Construction + Real Estate


The industry is building back, or at least, finding ways to adapt. One example: Fortify Holdings LLC of Oregon, led by Sean Keys of Beaverton, bought a string of second-tier hotels and is converting them into apartments. For all apartment types, local vacancy rates dropped below 1% in a spring 2021 survey by the Runstad Center for Real Estate at the University of Washington. The average Tri-City rent topped $1,100 per month. According to a roundup by Visit Tri-Cities, Fortify’s purchases include Rodeway Inn, Days Inn, Loyalty Inn, EconoLodge, Quality Inn and Best Western Plus Columbia River Hotel and Conference Center. Bouchey, of AGC, called it a welcome investment in solving a housing shortage that will get worse with the addition of thousands of new jobs in Pasco alone. “It’s people trying something new. It’s a positive,” he said. Tim Ufkes, senior vice president for investments in the Bellevue office of Marcus & Millichap and one of the few brokers who focuses on Tri-City apartments, said converting hotels into homes acknowledges economic reality. Apartment demand is high while the hotel industry “got whacked” by Covid-19. “There’s a large number of hotels being gobbled up,” he said. He closed three sales during the summer, including a troubled Pasco property whose new owner intends to clean it up. “I think the real estate story depends on the ownership and what they are going to do,” he


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business


Challenges ahead The housing shortage speaks to one of the biggest issues confronting the construction world: Labor availability.

Residential can’t keep up. Commercial is looking at growth areas for future expansion. Joel Bouchey, regional director and public policy coordinator, Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors The local unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% in August, according to the state Employment Security Department. That’s below pre-pandemic levels and signals a need for more workers as construction gives way to operations at the new employment centers. The Amazon warehouses will employ 1,500. Darigold is expected to add 1,200 at its plant. The Broadmoor area off Road 100 will include the Tri-Cities’ second Costco Inc. store, with the attendant jobs. In all, new development could easily add 3,000 jobs to the local economy. For contractors, that means competing for workers. “That’s going to be our biggest thing,” Bouchey said.

Public sector While private construction dominates, there is significant government-backed work. Pasco’s Lewis Street overpass project, Kennewick’s Ridgeline underpass, new fire stations and

even the long-anticipated TriCities Animal Control facility in Pasco are started or soon will. The rash of big school projects funded by bonds and state matching funds is winding down – for now. The big three local school districts have plenty of projects on their wish lists that they didn’t get to in their most recent building programs. The Richland and Pasco school districts both passed $99 million bonds in 2017, with most of the proceeds now spent. Kennewick passed a $125 million bond in 2019 that is largely spent, with one new elementary to be built before the 2022-23 school year. But, voters willing, there will be more bonds in the future. Richland is restarting its capital facilities planning process after it paused for the pandemic. The district is seeking volunteers to chart out a plan that addresses the need for a third high school, expansions to existing schools and looks at needs for its alternative programs and support facilities. District residents can contact about serving. Kennewick’s capital facilities plan calls for updates to Hawthorne, Washington and Vista elementaries, Horse Heaven Hills and Highland middle schools, two new elementaries (Nos. 19 and 20) and a new middle school (No. 6). Pasco’s capital facilities plan calls for a new high school and its 18th and 19th elementary schools. Bouchey, of AGC, doesn’t expect anything for one to two years. “We are in far more the private side at the moment,” he said. 

Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Port of Benton Commercial construction on Port of Benton property near Einstein Ave and University Drive in Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Port embraces Hanford history, tourism and infrastructure during pandemic BY MARY COFFMAN


espite a global pandemic leading to rising construction costs and difficulty obtaining materials throughout the U.S., the Port of Benton has tried to make good use of 2021, focusing on its infrastructure to attract new business to the Mid-Columbia. Diahann Howard, executive director, said tourism is a big driver of its economic mission, but the port, which serves a population of more than 56,000 and has a budget of $11.5 million for 2021, also is working to attract new manufacturing, research and technology companies to the area.

Harnessing STEM tourism One new project has Howard 16

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especially excited. “We’ve bonded $1 million to build the Hanford History Project,” she said. The Tri-Cities Research District houses many historical assets that document how the region and its people contributed during World War II, Howard said. The Port of Benton’s USS Triton sail and conning tower located in a north Richland park are a unique remnant of that era and reminder of the area’s participation during the war. A few miles west of the Triton park is the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and B Reactor tour headquarters, which is tucked between a local brewery and restaurant. And east of that is Washington State Univer-

sity Tri-Cities’ Hanford History Project, which houses dozens of the artifacts that positioned the Tri-Cities as home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The port is remodeling a portion of its building across from the USS Triton Sail Park to provide 20,000 square feet where it can consolidate the assets and promote the region’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) history. The building is west of the port’s administrative offices. “Much of the items are even too big for the Reach (Museum) to display and this will provide for the archiving and interpretation of it. These assets need a more permanent home,” Howard said. “We will also have a visitor’s

kiosk that will direct them to LIGO and the Reach.” LIGO, for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is the Nobel Prize-winning lab network that contributed to the confirmation of gravity waves. A visitors’ center will open in 2022. Howard said one of the port’s goals is to support Visit Tri-Cities’ STEM tourism initiatives at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, WSU Tri-Cities’ Hanford History Project and the Triton park to help diversify the Mid-Columbia’s economy while preserving its unique history. The center also will become the headquarters for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and B Reactor tours.

DOE land planning Howard said the port continues developing the 1,341-acre site the U.S. Department of Energy

We are still seeing a lot of demand and interest (for commercial properties). The Port of Benton has a good diversity of land, and it’s not just focused in one area. Diahann Howard, executive director, Port of Benton transferred to the port in 2016. The North Horn Rapids area is being marketed to draw manufacturing, energy and other industrial development. It will offer industrial lots of 200 to 500 acres, which aren’t readily available anywhere else in the Tri-Cities. The property is north of Horn Rapids Road between Kingsgate Road and Stevens Drive.

The port and the city of Richland own adjacent portions of the site and are collaborating on site planning and infrastructure for the property. In April 2017, J-U-B Engineers, a consultant based in the Tri-Cities, completed a master plan for the site, laying out roads and utilities to maximize the size of the lots, and studied how increased demand from the development might affect water, sewer, gas and transportation in the area. The property will be used to attract businesses that need 200 to 500 acres for clean manufacturing, food processing, energy and bioscience and more. Mandy Wallner, marketing specialist for Richland’s economic development office, said the purpose is simple – to create good, living-wage jobs in the Mid-Columbia.

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USS Triton Submarine Sail Park at 3250 Port of Benton Blvd. in north Richland features the decommissioned 23-foot tall USS Triton submarine sail.

Prosser, Benton City projects The port signed a deal with WSU Tri-Cities to house wine and culinary programs at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, salvaging what had been a challenging situation at the building, which was built to showcase the region’s wine industry. The nonprofit that operated


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Courtesy Ross James Photography

Walter Clore ceased in 2020, citing pandemic pressures and competition from private tasting rooms. WSU Tri-Cities signed a oneyear lease with options to renew. Howard said despite the uncertain economy, the port has seen continued interest in its properties. Its new building at Vintners Village in Prosser is completely

leased. The port completed construction of the 9,000-square-foot building at 236 Port Ave. in 2018. The Wautoma Springs and Domanico Cellars wineries and a gift shop, Sister to Sister on the Ave., have joined more than a dozen other wineries, a bed and breakfast and other retail businesses to offer a stroll-able cluster

of locally-owned retail shops to draw visitors to the area. In Benton City, the port recently sold its property at 721 Ninth St., which has opened as L&G Salon. It is negotiating the sale of 713 Ninth St., the city’s former fire station, to a private party. “We are still seeing a lot of demand and interest (for commercial properties),” Howard said. “The Port of Benton has a good diversity of land, and it’s not just focused in one area.”

Pandemic challenges The Covid-19 pandemic continues to create challenges that have caused delays throughout the construction industry. It can be difficult to obtain essential materials, such as wood and steel. When they are available, the prices have risen significantly. Howard said port staff is doing the best it can with the resources available to stimulate and boost the local economy and employment in the area. “With the supply chain, it can be hit or miss,” she said. “We thought Covid would have subsided, and to see things going backward is frustrating and disheartening.” But the port remains focused on continuing infrastructure projects so when industry comes calling, sites will be ready. “We’ve done a lot of investment at both the Richland and Prosser airports,” Howard said. That includes several new hangars at the Prosser airport and completing a new master plan for the Richland Airport, which will provide an overall guide for commercial development at the airports over the next 15 to 20 years. Howard said the port is seeking grants to help pay for the projects. It recently secured a

The Port of Benton recently secured a $3.2 million Federal Aviation Administration grant to update electrical, lighting and guidance systems at the Richland Airport. Courtesy Ross James Photography

$3.2 million FAA grant to update electrical, lighting and guidance systems at the Richland Airport. “We are going after grants all over the place to invest in both airports and in rail,” she said. At the same time, port staff are making sure to take care of their existing buildings and assets and to advocate for the community and its business interests. “We are ensuring they are ready to go once we understand

what they world looks like postCovid,” she said. The port continues to try to insulate the local economy from Covid impacts, while taking precautions to protect staff and visitors, as well. “My No. 1 priority is my team,” Howard said. “Keeping them safe and following protocols, like masking in the office and deep cleanings of office spaces, to make sure they are OK.” 


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Port of Kennewick The new water feature at Vista Field in Kennewick. | Courtesy PS Media for Port of Kennewick

Vista Field, Columbia Gardens ready for sale BY ROBIN WOJTANIK


lmost a decade after closing Vista Field, the Port of Kennewick is poised to start selling land and to welcome new construction after challenges and delays brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Everything has to be talked about against the backdrop of where we’re still at in 2021,” said Tim Arntzen, the port’s chief executive officer. “We’re in a different world right now. Prior to Covid, we’d been foot on the gas, ready to roll things out.” The port is ready to offer up its desirable land – right in the heart of Kennewick and never previously available to private developers – now that the city of Kennewick has signed off on about $4 million in infrastructure work at the former municipal airport, described as “first cabin, no cutting corners.” This includes road work, sidewalks, utilities and landscaping to

prep the site for project proposals on shovel-ready land. “We’re ready to pop, in a real positive way,” Arntzen said. From here, the port will finalize design standards and set pricing before soliciting requests from developers interested in building there. A key feature of the infrastructure includes a chlorinated stream running from West Deschutes Avenue north toward West Rio Grande Avenue. The water feature in the middle of the former airport includes trees, waterfalls, rocks, bridges, fountains, benches and walking paths. “That stream is going to rival the lighthouse for an iconic feature in our community,” Arntzen said, referring to the port’s lighthouse on Clover Island. “There’s a lot of pride that we built something that’s drawing wildlife.” Unexpected pandemic-related chlorine shortages occasionally

have affected the clarity of the stream, but Arntzen is optimistic the shortage will pass.

‘Most coveted area’ Arntzen predicts “for sale” signs will be in the ground after the first of the year and the first land sale publicized by March 2022. “We’ve got a diamond in the rough, and it’s a big one. We are going to figure out a few paperwork things right now, but this is our diamond mine and we’ve got to find our diamond buyers,” he said. Buyers will be building on land Arntzen believes to be the “most coveted area in the Tri-Cities.” “I don’t care how you draw the map, if you put crosshairs at the center, it’s Vista Field, and we own it,” he said. Projects will need to align with a master plan for walkable streets offering a mix of commercial, retail and residential development across 103 acres. Focus | Construction + Real Estate


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“We’re going to be forthright and aggressive in selling this property to a builder for the right price that will do great things,” Arntzen said. “We’re a community that likes government to get ... out of the way. We like the private sector to do things rather than government building empires.” Getting the land on the tax rolls will include partnering with local builders who can execute the vision of 1,100 residential units in a “pedestrian-focused regional town center” that also will include civic amenities, entertainment and recreation opportunities throughout small-scale streets designed to encourage limited use of vehicles.

Columbia Gardens The port’s Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village has grown to include four wineries, plus a parking lot that doubles as its Food Truck Plaza. The port has added string lights, seating and canopies for shade to encourage customers to patronize the regular eateries like Culture Shock Bistro, Swampy’s BBQ Sauce & Eatery, Nonfiction and Bobablastic Tri-Cities. New fencing with a standingheight counter area was added and permanent restrooms are in the works. “The greatest thing would be if we could get through Covid. You need the people to have great things; we need them to be circulating in our wine village,” Arntzen said. “We have great plans for the waterfront.”

its new master plan covering Clover Island and the near shore and found the pandemic benefited the

We’re ready to pop, in a real positive way. Tim Arntzen, CEO, Port of Kennewick planning process. “We got way more participation with people doing it strictly remotely. We got a ton of public participation – possibly three times as much as the last one,” Arntzen said. The Kennewick Historic Waterfront District Master Plan will work to guide the priority projects for investments around Clover Island and Columbia Gardens, as well as The Willows, a mixed-use site covering nearly seven acres by the waterfront, and Cable Greens, the property at the base

of the cable bridge, just east of the wine village, and also intended for mixed use. Development at The Willows and Cable Greens has been part of a long-term vision to acquire properties and rehabilitate them. “We have more property than we did in 2004,” said Arntzen, who said the properties once had the perception of being “grungy or downtrodden,” but that’s no longer the case. He believes people want to live on waterfront land, and the port has worked to make the area even more appealing through updates to the nearby Duffy’s Pond and walking trails. The port also developed an owners’ association and is working to set pricing for selling parcels. Road work throughout the spring and summer on nearby Washington Street will help connect the waterfront with Kennewick’s commercial core, adding

Highlighting the waterfront The waterfront has taken on a whole new dynamic with the addition of the wine village and the ongoing rehab of Clover Island. The projects were part of the port’s last master plan, first adopted about 15 years ago. After completing 90% of the items on the list, the port wrapped Focus | Construction + Real Estate


A paved path attracts bikers and walkers alike at the Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village in Kennewick. Courtesy Kim Fetrow for Port of Kennewick

landscaping planters, lighting and wider sidewalks between Columbia Drive and Kennewick Avenue. It will make the waterfront and downtown core more walkable, a benefit the port was happy to chip in $500,000 toward the project cost. “East Kennewick has been the forgotten part of town – and it’s where the community started,” Arntzen said. “After the downtown core decayed over time, millions have been pumped back in, and you’ve got to do that – so you can give people a reason to stay and come to this side of town.” Arntzen said improvements at the waterfront have progressed with market demand. “There were things we couldn’t implement before – there probably wasn’t time for it. Now it’s getting closer to time, and people want to invest with their own dollars,” he said. A project planned for late 2021 will restore shorelines on Clover Island and extend recreation paths along the river.

Board turnover The 12-person staff for the Port of Kennewick will welcome a familiar new face to its board of commissioners with the departure of Don Barnes, current board president and commissioner for nearly a decade. He’s set to be replaced by Ken 24

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Hohenberg, Kennewick’s current police chief and assistant city manager. As the sole candidate for the open District 1 position in the November election, Hohenberg will take office in January 2022. “It’s a perfect fit for me,” Hohenberg said, reflecting on his desire to continue serving the community following his planned retirement in February 2022 as police chief. “When I retire, it’s good to separate myself from city government and cut the strings,” he said. Arntzen looks forward to Hohenberg joining the commission. “He is one of the most prominent statespersons in our community, and I’m really excited to give him a chance to get his hands on the controls,” he said. Hohenberg comes to the commission following a couple years of infighting that resulted in a formal complaint lodged against Barnes and Tom Moak by a fellow commissioner, Skip Novakovich. It ended up costing taxpayers nearly half-a-million dollars in investigative costs before being resolved. “When you go from an active organization, a new speed record broken every day, and then you have the procedural and political stuff, it takes a bite out of you,” Arntzen said.

Hohenberg said Barnes has been “thoughtful” with his time and helped prepare the incoming commissioner, as Hohenberg hopes to move beyond the past distractions. “The port has done a lot of great projects over the years and made courageous decisions. Barnes was part of the decision to close the airport (Vista Field), but I believe it’s created a much better benefit to all Tri-Citians. I want to capitalize on that and see some of these projects come out of the ground,” Hohenberg said. The port has recently invested in projects within its boundaries, including partnering with the city of Richland to spend $800,000 in improvements to Columbia Park Trail, adding sidewalks, a bike path and lighting. It also sold land in the city of West Richland that is the site of the city’s new police station, now under construction. It will be completed in November. Another land sale in West Richland allowed Benton Fire District 4 to build its Keene Road station, which opened this summer, to support the continued growth at the west end of the Tri-Cities. “If your objective is to build things for the community, it doesn’t matter who does it,” Arntzen said. 

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Port of Pasco Pioneer Packaging is building a $3.8 million warehouse at 5818 Industrial Way in Pasco. | Photo by Kristina Lord

Industrial expansion targets open land BY ROBIN WOJTANIK


he Port of Pasco is set to become the home base for the largest milk protein facility in North America – employing hundreds of people with well-paying jobs at a new Darigold facility that will anchor the Reimann Industrial Center. Darigold Inc. expects the project to employ more than 1,000. Those at the plant will include about 200 workers for the highlyautomated, 400,000-square-foot facility, hiring technicians, machinists and programmers. “The new jobs at the plant and the new jobs at dairy farms create extraordinary opportunities for Franklin County residents,” said

Jim Klindworth, Port of Pasco commission president. Darigold intends to buy half of the 300 acres available at Reimann, close to Highway 395, about a mile north of the Pasco Processing Center that’s home to Kenyon Zero Storage, Pasco Processing, Twin City Foods, Americold and FedEx, among others. Darigold plans to produce a specialized protein powder and butter, with much of the factory’s output headed to the Pacific Rim. At an expected construction cost of $500 million, it will become the largest private industrial development ever at the Port of Pasco. Site work likely will begin in 2022 with commercial produc-

tion at the plant starting by early 2024. The state’s $7.5 million commitment to infrastructure work helped assure the land sale went through.

Reser’s new facility Reser’s Fine Foods is building a 250,000-square-foot processing plant at the Pasco Industrial Center 395. The 90-acre plot was part of a single land deal just east of the Pasco Processing Center, where another Reser’s facility is located. The port’s executive director, Randy Hayden, called it, “an opportunity we couldn’t pass up” and said the property “checks all the boxes with excellent road Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Reser’s Fine Foods is building a 250,000-square-foot food processing plant at 5526 Capitol Ave. in Pasco. | Photo by Kristina Lord

access and other utilities already in place.” The port will retain 50 acres from the purchase, with Reser’s utilizing the remaining 40. The processing facility is expected to be done in 2022, bringing just over 300 jobs to a building more than twice the size of the current Reser’s property in Pasco, which is set to be “retooled.”


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Serving smaller business As the port has courted large food processors, it’s also found success with smaller businesses looking to locate nearby agriculture or food processing. Hayden said the port sold out of all of the lots available in Foster Wells Business Park, a 50-acre area divided into 2- to 10-acre

parcels, adjacent to the Pasco Processing Center, also off Highway 395. “New facilities have been constructed and all the buildings are either up or in the process of going up,” Hayden said. A large infrastructure project is taking place south of the processing facilities, adding $8 million in roads and storm water lines to support docks in the Big Pasco, Industrial Center. “So many logistics operators are bringing in stuff and shipping out on trucks, so having docks and roads to support that is important,” Hayden said.

Osprey Pointe ready to fly Infrastructure – specifically sewer and water – have delayed timelines for Osprey Pointe Marketplace, which also has been affected by pandemic. “There were months we couldn’t reach the city because they were on a skeleton crew and could only respond to emergencies,” said James Sexton, Osprey Pointe developer and president of JMS Development. “If it weren’t for Covid, we would have buildings up right now.” The new target is late spring or summer 2022 for a public market at East Ainsworth Avenue and South Oregon Avenue. The prefabricated, 76,000-square-foot metal building should arrive soon and the exterior will be embellished with wings that include a three-story add-on with a banquet room. Osprey Pointe Marketplace will house up to 120 spots for local vendors and restaurants. Described as a “loss leader” for the overall project, expected pricing for vendors will be as low as $25/day for a seasonal, weekend table, and up to $1,400/monthly for the largest space.

The banquet room will be marketed as a site for wedding receptions or other gatherings. The team is courting local artists to participate in a gallery on the site to showcase and sell their works without needing to rent and staff a booth. “A student interested in art could work there to man the booth and split the costs between featured artists; and now we’re helping out a college student or high school student with a parttime job,” Sexton said. Utility work should begin this fall with the marketplace’s foundation laid at the same time. “That way, if winter comes early, we can keep building,” Sexton said. The commercial piece is just a portion of the $100-million, decade-long project in east Pasco that’s expected to include 600 homes as well. A recent zoning change by the city will pave the way for the first 33 detached townhomes, expected to be done by summer 2022, adding to the roughly 97,000 people who currently live in the port’s boundaries. “They would own the land directly below the unit, and the homeowners association will maintain the lawn,” Sexton said. At the north end of the port’s boundaries, a building owned by the city of Connell was recently transformed from a former medical office to the North Franklin Visitor Center. Located at the south entrance of town, Connell’s mayor said, “it provides a rest break for travelers on Highway 395 and gives them the opportunity to learn about our city’s history, community events, local businesses and the other things that our city and surrounding areas have to offer.” 

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Tri-Cities Airport Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco. | Courtesy Port of Pasco

Pandemic has air travel in a holding pattern BY ROBIN WOJTANIK


ovid-19 has taken a bite out of air travel at the Port of Pasco-operated Tri-Cities Airport, which hasn’t rebounded as hoped, just as the end of summer tends to “dry up” leisure travel, said Airport Director Buck Taft. “I don’t have the confidence to say anything for certain. It’s taking a dip as of right now, and the business traveler is the key,” he said. In the early days of the pandemic, boardings fell by more than 90%. Boardings returned to 90% of pre-Covid levels, but Taft said industry predictions suggest it might not be until 2024 that air travel fully returns to 2019 numbers. In the last year, the airport has added three new flights, connecting Pasco with two southern California destinations, Burbank and San Diego, and the Reno30

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Tahoe area. Taft said Los Angeles International remains the No. 1 market the airport is hoping to land as a daily nonstop. “Portland is still on the radar for next year as a route we want to capture,” Taft said. The airport wants to make a play for service to Phoenix, Dallas and Chicago as well. “We feel those cities are our next step. What order they come in – my crystal ball isn’t that good,” he said. Taft said the Tri-Cities is still a hot market for new routes, but it’s more isolated and just a little farther away than some other desirable spots, like Bend, Oregon. “Oregon airports are closer to L.A. than we are. When we’re competing, they’re going to get the service first,” Taft said. The airport currently offers daily, nonstop flights to Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle, and weekly

or seasonal flights to Burbank, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, MesaPhoenix and San Diego. Flights to Reno-Tahoe International Airport begin Oct. 24. The entire industry has suffered from pilot shortages, a problem that began prior to the pandemic, and most new pilots start in regional airports, like Pasco, before moving to longerhaul routes. A plan to add a commercial building at the Tri-Cities Airport Business Center has fallen off initial predictions to start construction in late 2020. The port signed a long-term lease for The Landing at West Argent Road and Varney Lane, near Columbia Basin College, which is expected to include a flex building, followed by retail space, said Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director. “It’ll happen. There’s just been delays for many reasons,” he said. 

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Education Construction at the new Badger Mountain Elementary school in south Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Build, rebuild, remodel – repeat? BY JEFF MORROW


espite the pandemic, the Mid-Columbia’s school districts and schools – grades Kindergarten through 12, as well as higher education – plowed ahead to build, rebuild and remodel schools and support facilities. From a recently opened Kennewick High School, which cost over $100 million, to $30 million buildings at both Columbia Basin College in Pasco and Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland, this region is still high on education construction. The Kennewick, Pasco and Richland school districts are winding down the projects funded by bonds approved by voters in recent years. It won’t be long before all three 34

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consider new bond measures to meet the needs of the area’s everincreasing student and teacher populations. Here is a look at what is going on:

Kennewick School District The Kennewick School District’s most recent official numbers for 2020-21: 18,539 students. Robyn Chastain, executive director of communication and public relations, said that while official enrollment numbers aren’t complete, “I can tell you that we are not seeing a significant change at the elementary numbers. At the secondary level we are more optimistic that enrollment will increase compared to last school year.” The district had 1,189 classified staff and 1,325 certificated

staff last school year. The district’s operational budget for the 2021-22 school year is $292 million. The biggest school project in Kennewick and the region was the renovation and remodel of Kennewick High School. The project was approved by Kennewick voters in the 2019 bond, and cost $109.5 million. State matching funds supported the project. The 292,000-square-foot building opened to students in August. In addition, Southridge High School students were greeted with a $25 million addition of 30,000 square feet for new classroom space and athletic facility improvements. Kamiakin High School students benefited from a $17 million facelift that added

23,000 square feet of new classroom space and athletic facility improvements. When it’s all said and done, all three high schools should hold 2,000 students each. Technically, though, the projects aren’t all completed, with some minor work needing to be finished. “(They’re) not considered officially complete at this time,” said Chastain. “We have a conditional certificate of occupancy for the three projects and there is still some work to be completed.” The $10.8 million Tri-Tech Skills Center expansion project was completed in November 2020, with 16,000 square feet of classroom space added. In addition, the 2019 bond allows for replacing Ridge View Elementary school, expanding it from 20 classrooms to 30. “Design West has been selected to design Ridge View Elementary,” Chastain said. “The design process is starting this fall and continuing through spring 2022. The tentative date for completed construction (of the $23 million project) is December 2023.” The last part of the bond is a plan for the district’s 18th elementary school. Chastain said that depends on enrollment growth. “At this time, the district would need to see a significant increase in elementary enrollment during the next several years to be eligible for state construction assistance funds,” said Chastain. As for the next bond, a timeline has not been determined. “There is no firm date to run the next bond measure,” said Chastain. “Potential projects and availability of the state construction assistance funds will be evaluated over the next few years to determine if 2025 or a later date is appropriate to run a bond

Kennewick High School, 560 W. Sixth Ave., opened in August with a new 292,000-square-foot building. The $109 million project was funded by a voter-approved bond and state matching funds. Photo by Chad Utecht


Richland School District The Richland School District has 13,739 students and 920 certificated staff, which includes teachers, school nurses, librarians and counselors. The district’s operational budget is $203 million for the 2021-22 school year. Ty Beaver, the district’s director of communications, said it is still working on projects funded by the 2017 voter-approved bond. Last October, staff moved into the $11.6 million Teaching, Learning and Administration Center in West Richland. The building has 41,000 square feet that includes office space for six district departments, school board meetings and three classrooms. The Richland High School Auditorium renovation project, which cost $7.7 million, was completed in July 2021. The improvements include new seating and a re-arranged layout, an improved stage area, additional restrooms, a new roof and improved access for people with disabilities. Construction crews also are nearing the end of the $6 million

Hanford High School athletic fields project. The project updated and enhanced athletic fields at Hanford High for physical education classes, marching band practices, team practices and games. That included installing artificial turf, resurfacing the track, adding a 2,000-seat grandstand with a press box, a new building with restrooms and concessions, a new venue entrance and improved accessibility. That project is expected to be completed in October 2021. Then work will get going on the $10 million Fran Rish Stadium upgrades over at Richland High School. The project will include updating and enhancing the field and home side bleachers of the stadium. That will include new artificial turf, a resurfaced track, new home side bleachers, restrooms, locker rooms and training spaces. The permitting process will start in winter 2021, while construction will run from spring through summer 2022. The project is scheduled for completion in August 2022. The construction of the new Badger Mountain Elementary Focus | Construction + Real Estate


The Pasco School District rebuilt and expanded Isaac Stevens Middle School, 1120 N. 22nd Ave., using proceeds from a 2017 voter-approved bond and state matching funds. Photo by Chad Utecht

School on its former site started in late August 2021. The new school should be 65,000 square feet, and will include 28 regular classrooms and three classrooms for special


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

education classes, a multipurpose space, library, art and music spaces, gymnasium and a playground. The 2017 bond supports a 12th elementary school, but no decision has been made about where

and when it will be built. Beaver said there is no set timeline yet for the next bond, but the district is reconvening its capital facilities committee to chart a course to a bond request as early as 2022. Its charge includes considering the need for a third high school. “District leaders are in the midst of reviewing current facility needs and are looking for community members who have the time to dedicate to the Facilities Planning Committee and give input to the process, and craft a recommendation for future construction to the Richland School Board sometime in the coming months,” he said.

Pasco School District The most recent enrollment figures for the Pasco School District for the 2021-22 school year show 18,393 students. The breakdown is 8,080 elementary students, 4,408 middle school students and 5,905 high school students. Shane Edinger, director of public affairs, said the district has an estimated 2,200 total employees, and about 1,200 certificated employees. Its general fund budget for 2021-22 is about $289 million. The general fund covers operating costs but not capital projects. Only one project is left in the bond approved by voters in 2017 – a maintenance bay for the transportation and facilities departments. That originally called for $1.6 million for two new maintenance bays for Pasco’s 162 school buses, as well as another $1.4 million for improvements on the transportation facility. Both are needed. Pasco has a 47-to-1 bus-to-bay ratio. Kennewick’s is 25-to-1 and Richland’s is 20-to-1. The maintenance facility

Collaboration Hall is newest academic building at Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Richland campus, 2710 Crimson Way. The $30 million project, funded by the state capital projects budget, includes 40,000 square feet of teaching labs, meeting space and an event area. Courtesy WSU Tri-Cities

needed an update to a building that helps 30 maintenance workers and 75 custodians. The concept is being retooled. In December 2020, the Pasco School Board approved partnering with the Finley School District on a transportation cooperative. The state Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office signed off in January. Edinger said there are many benefits to the co-op. “A transportation cooperative will allow for 90% of the eligible costs of construction to be covered by (the state),” he said. It also results in a larger department facility to alleviate space constraints for all staffers, the full remodeling of the shop space to increase the number of service bays, and helps the Finley School District too, Edinger added. The design development process for the transportation is complete. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2021, with completion expected with a year. The 2017 bond, coupled with state matching funds, paid for the

$28.5 million Columbia River Elementary School, which opened in September 2020; the rebuilding of the $39.7 million ($21.1 mil-

lion from the bond, $18.6 million in matching funds from the state) Isaac Stevens Middle School, which welcomed students in

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Construction proceeds on the Student Recreation Center at Columbia Basin College’s Pasco campus, 2600 N. 20th Ave. Students voted to support the $30 million project. Photo by Scott Butner Photography

January 2021; and the opening of the new $46.5 million ($15.9 million of it in state matching funds) Ray Reynolds Middle School. As for an upcoming bond measure, Edinger said the district is considering a timeline. “As part of the district’s longterm facilities management plan, the district was planning to run a bond in November 2020 that would have included a third comprehensive high school for the district, and career and technical 38

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

education enhancements at Chiawana and Pasco,” said Edinger. In June 2021 the board voted to postpone that bond election because of the pandemic. The district will ask the LongTerm Facilities Management Plan Committee to re-engage later this year to discuss the next bond.

Columbia Basin College Jay Frank, CBC spokesman, said the Pasco campus projects 4,555 full-time students expected

for this school year. That’s down from the close to 5,500 who attended in fall 2020. Columbia Basin College has 773 employees this school year, which includes 135 full-time faculty members and 220 part-time. The school’s fiscal year 2022 operating budget is $55 million. The big news this year at CBC is ongoing construction of the $30 million Student Recreation Center. The CBC Associated Student Body approved the project. The 80,000-square-foot facility will feature a basketball gymnasium that seats 1,000 to 1,200 people, another basketball practice court, a smaller court with a dasher system, an esports room for multiplayer video gaming, a fitness center, office space and a recreation center where students can check out tents, sleeping bags and outdoor gear. The project reached the halfway point in June 2021 – which puts it behind schedule. That’s because of pandemicrelated supply chain issues. The project is currently expected to wrap in spring 2022. When it is completed, the old gym across the parking lot will be torn down. The rec center isn’t the only big project on campus. Frank said “the library building renovation and repairs, and the T building science wing renovations projects are the top ones.” The library project – which will include improvements on the roof, lighting controls and HVAC units – will cost an estimated $1.2 million. The T building improvements will cost about $816,000.

WSU Tri-Cities Maegan Murray, director of communication for WSU TriCities, said the latest enrollment figures date back to fall 2020,

with 1,716 students. That includes 1,537 undergraduates and 179 graduate students. The total faculty and staff at WSU Tri-Cities is 568 people, with 152 of them faculty members. The school is operating under a $20 million budget for the 202122 school year. In addition, there is $7 million in grant expenditures. The big project this past year was the fall opening of the $30 million academic building called Collaboration Hall. The 40,000-square-foot building was funded in the state capital budget. It contains classrooms, labs for physics, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology and geology and other disciplines. There is collaborative space, an entry suited for events and receptions and an outdoor amphitheater. Murray said the school added some improvements to its veterans memorial as well. “We expanded ‘Stories’ Veterans Memorial, renovated the Veterans Center and newly added the General James Mattis Leadership Library (located in the Veterans Center),” she said. The library includes books Mattis said were important to his development as a military leader. The campus library also got a renovation, with an expansion into a robust “Learning Commons” – opened in time for classes this fall. In that renovation, the first floor now “features a range of student services, of which some include our tutoring center, writing center, TRIO Student Success Programs, academic advising, proctoring center and Career Services.” The second floor is now the traditional library. 



509.735.7072 | 7014 W. Okanogan Place Kennewick


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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

City of Kennewick Residential construction near Ridgeline Drive and South Sherman Street in Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Forging forward to ‘normal’ despite pandemic BY LAURA KOSTAD


s the Tri-Cities negotiates its second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, cities and private developers alike continue to forge ahead with projects, bringing new services to the community. Despite state and federal level mandates limiting in-person business, tightened budgets and ballooning construction costs, Kennewick – the largest and most densely populated of the four cities at 85,940 residents, up 1,000 over the previous year – never saw a major drop in development. “It’s very encouraging,” said Evelyn Lusignan, public relations and customer service manager. “It’s a sign we’re going to come out of this and that those

who invest in our community have all the confidence things will get back to normal.” “New development kept coming in, new plans were proposed and development meetings held,” Lusignan said. Homebuilders applied for 171 permits in the city for the first eight months of 2021, down slightly from 193 for the same period the previous year. “The good news is we remain well positioned to continue providing over 300 services to our community,” she said, referencing a tally taken a few years back of all programs and services provided by city departments. For 2021-22, the city of Kennewick’s biennial budget is $396 million. About $66 million is budgeted for capital projects.

Sales tax revenue climbs Though some of the city’s revenue sources such as gambling and lodging taxes continue to lag, sales tax revenue has been strong in 2021, up 22% over the previous year. Lusignan said it’s a result of business picking back up as brick-and-mortar storefronts reopened and the public returned to more normal routines. Sales tax distributions from large improvement projects such as the Kennewick High School renovation and substantial expansions of Southridge and Kamiakin high schools also significantly contributed to this uptick and helped mitigate revenue losses. Lusignan acknowledged a handful of businesses didn’t survive the pandemic and that some Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Trios Southridge Hospital expansion project at 3810 Plaza Way, Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

ne w Ken ick

21 Population 20

moving forward while city hall was closed to the public. +12,023 “It made for a from 2010 good transition to get people to use the online sery ho amil me pe f vices available to them e 24/7,” Lusignan said. In addition to private investment, in May 2021, the city of Kennewick received about $8 million as a part of the federal *Year to date coronavirus relief bill approved in through August March 2021, called the American are Rescue Plan. still A second distribution for the strugsame amount will be sent in May gling. “Our 2022. county was shut “The city has been reviewing down longer than any county in (the) requirements and explorthe state, so it had an impact for ing potential uses of the funding sure,” she said. to determine how best to utilize The city’s focus on online tools these funds to assist our city and available on its website – for subthe broader Tri-Cities region in its mitting plans and permit applicaeconomic recovery from the Cotions – also helped keep projects vid-19 pandemic,” Lusignan said.


2021: 171 2020: 193 2019: 231

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Sing l


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

New fire stations One of the city’s biggest projects wrapping up in fall 2021 is the new fire station on Grandridge Boulevard behind Three Rivers Convention Center, a $4.5 million undertaking. It replaces the previous Fire Station 3 behind the Benton County Justice Center on West Quinault Avenue. The new station is projected to serve the community for the next 40 to 50 years. Within the next three years, a new fire station will be built on 10th Avenue next to the old Trios Hospital, formerly known as Kennewick General, replacing an older station and administrative offices at 600 S. Auburn St. At 12,570 square feet, the new station will feature extra deep bays able to accommodate up to three fire/EMS units, with ample space to house reserve vehicles or possibly a future aerial apparatus, as well as additional space for future needs.

“The highlight of the station design is an out-front display bay that will house the first motorized fire truck purchased by the city of Kennewick in 1922,” Lusignan said. “This contemporary display in a state-of-the-art facility will fit in well with the Vista Field development project,” she said. Lusignan noted the city and Port of Kennewick meet frequently to discuss how to best work together to support the port’s goals of developing the property.

Infrastructure projects Additional infrastructure improvements were completed or are currently underway around Kennewick. In Southridge, construction of the highly anticipated underpass at Highway 395 and Ridgeline Drive began in early April 2021. The project includes on- and

Construction is underway at the Resort at Hansen Park, an 18-acre, mixed-use development at 7960 W. 10th Ave., Kennewick. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

off-ramps, providing direct access to Ridgeline Drive, making this rapidly growing area more appealing to developers. “Currently the Ridgeline Drive intersection with Highway 395 is restricted to not allow left

turns out from Ridgeline onto Highway 395. This restricts the ability of adjacent properties to successfully develop without the benefit of easy access to and from their properties,” Lusignan said.

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An additional northbound 395 lane also is included in the project and will extend from Ridgeline to north of Hildebrand Boulevard, as well as new turn lanes at all four legs of the Highway 395-Hildebrand intersection. The $13.4 million construction bid was awarded in February 2021 after five years of planning. The project is estimated to cost $21 million. The city will receive $15 million from the state’s Connecting Washington funds – a 16-year program funded primarily by an 11.9-cent gas tax increase fully phased in on July 1, 2016. Lusignan emphasized the significance of securing Connecting Washington funding, explaining that a lot of money is committed to the west side of the state where roadways are stressed by the rapidly increasing and densifying population. “We’re all paying this gas tax

… it’s great to see our tax dollars coming back,” she said. The project is expected to be finished by fall 2022. In downtown Kennewick, work wrapped up in summer 2021 on improvements to Washington Street, intended to extend pedestrian connectivity between the downtown area, Clover Island and Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village. Wider sidewalks, additional landscaping, new street lights and a pedestrian crossing with flashing beacon at Railroad Avenue were added in partnership with the Port of Kennewick and Complete Streets, each of which contributed $500,000 to the project. Around the city, asphalt overlaying has been completed on Southridge Boulevard from Hildebrand to 27th Avenue, Hildebrand Boulevard from Southridge to South Dawes Street and

27th Avenue from Union Street to Highway 395 and Highway 395 to Ely Street. The pedestrian flashing beacons also were added to 15 pedestrian crossings across the city, thanks to a $855,000 federal grant. A new six million-gallon reservoir near 18th Avenue and Kellogg Street is set for completion by July 2022, replacing a larger, outdated reservoir on the site. The partnership between the city of Kennewick and Vijay Patel of A1 Pearl Development Group to expand Three Rivers Convention Center, build a Broadwaystyle theater, seven-story hotel and commercial space is ongoing as the developers continue to explore financing options. “We are still in our due diligence period,” Lusignan said, emphasizing that the project is still being pursued. 

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January 2021 Volume 20 | Issue 1

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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business 8524 W. Gage Blvd., #A1-300 Kennewick, WA 99336





Culverwe Art Walk & By Wendy Wine is editor@tcj canceled, leaving Gala in July were both As members company the sponsorship ofrisRichland the Prosser ned Commerce dollars unChamber of spent. thanks to A family-ow building, struggled caketo pay renewal Spokesman Paul to a newder tastpandemic-re e bread,lated fees expanding opened a gluten-fre financial pressure, un- ey was budgeted Crawford noted the monfor itsexecutive winery has Tri-Cities to support the director found ing demand A Richland uare- a novel solution. the So, it cut a check r from the community. mixes. base. John-Paul 20,000-sq downrive for $2,500. and other Estey asked occupy a its customer ing room “It made a lot willSavings Yakima Federal expanding Battelle BouleGF Blends facility onand Loan in hopes of Griffin’s new storefront nesses who were of sense to help these busin to allow it in April, use sponsorstruggling,” on wraps foot productio ship dollars wineries setBarnard for also events aren’t he said. “These a conconstructi number of events to cover is canceled about Yakima owed bywho t in Vanvard when cash-strappe dues Federal.” joined a growing The money Glen Call, g the dpropmembers. at The Waterfron River helped the chamber said owner The is developin bank agreed. as Columbia ting up shop its mission, Inc. serving continue Yakima Federal across the which is to support tractor. Allprotap to foot withtheCall ent was couver, just the on Blends, business and community. entertainmen ” Among its many in the developm t bill for two erty for GF Prosser partner chamber from Portland. long time in the planning, key organized street events. But the a of the closures to facilitateevents, it both a minority & Highland “It’s been co-owner office Scottish Fest dining, which the tenant. Games in outdoor house Barnard, in JuneGFand proved popular will team and the Prosser said Deborah Covid hit, we weren’t building for to retailers as new space n The BUSINES n winery. “Once ts such more productio S GROUPS, e Columbia e ingredien space and Page A5 out the imCowan/Th with a huge hurry.” did point Amanda turn gluten-fre potato, amaranth, a portrait Courtesy Blends to But the pandemic consumer opportupause for room mixes corn, rice, Barnard, grains into of direct-toas blended Griffin tasting Deborah and other portance g from Barnard said. his wife, the new quinoa, millet basis for everythin cakes. sales, she left, and on wholesale outside nities for n, from the and Hughes, the was reliant Rob Griffi Naked Winthat form to breads , Megan in r. “Our brand restaurants all over fish batter in early 2020. years ago their daughter nt in Vancouve when crepes and she said. formed 12 tasting room plans to open in 2021. trade but r at The Waterfro d this suffered,” at The The company becoming , Page B2 country closed, chose the Vancouve t is quickly Barnard ery announce from wineries GF BLENDS it’s The Waterfron “The interest been a really pleasant ng hub. The winery ent because she new wine-tasti winery to open t has e developm , Page B3 She said the state’s Waterfron mixed-us g project. ARD GRIFFIN is the seventh County winery, BARN offered something Griffith such an interestin a Benton room Tri-Cities new tasting 665 there. AnotherAirfield Estates, opened wished the winery’s at ased similar. The Rediviva building Prosser-b the in 18. opened Way on Dec. W. Columbia

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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business


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By Wendy the a 11, decreasing rate week of unit. according $1,100 per of 10% or editor@tcj two-week rate ness Administrat to the U.S. Small BusiIt’s back to in the Triof new Covid-19 more in a ion and Treasury “I can basically basics for Washington is best known tions, fewer ment. hospitalizaresidenbusinesses as newest Departthan state Jason Zook A Mile Painting, a Covid-19 infections build the with turning positive 10% of Covid-19 tests the The in Smile latest Gov. rates business for reround Jay rise. and fewer than Inslee debuted Cities includes $284 and nicest al painting Central Orsive care unit more easily a new billion for strategy that ood beand beds occupied. 90% of intenforgivable PPP tial and commerci organizes Washington Covid-19 neighborh ing to an analysis loans, accordThe state Department 2020. in the Tri-Cities regions and into eight operations cause it’s sets tough targets of Health released Union Administrat by the National Credit Jason Zook g else is tions meant d in construcbefore restric- data showing a 4% drop egon. Everythin ion, to backgroun curtail the spread a federal entity. in infections himSouth Central has a bill also allows r. that causes the in the The projects for of the virus But Zook region in December disease said in Decembe de always built a hobby. increase in for a “Second some businesses to apply but a 12% ’80s,” he new hospital Healthy Washington are loosened. was ready-ma tion and has Draw” loan on ’70s and he treats as admissions. and simplifies the process combination the property project. – Roadmap to ery The to apply for was not enough Zook said self, something steps from the conceptcarRecovReal Estate ily loan forgiveness Culverwell launched Jan. 11, with the no-frills apartment the to move the area for loans of single-fam all eight regions out of Phase 1. “I know $150,000 placed Wendy & Constructio through sweepingis flowing for a smallish, property had apartments Richland at in Phase 1, Photo by The bill reserved or less. “We know that winery opens n t complex The one-acre was zoned for expected to remainthe most restrictive. 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Residential and Commercial



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The city of Kennewick is building Fire Station #6, a $9 million station that will serve the Southridge area. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Focus | Construction + Real Estate


City of Pasco Earth moving equipment prepares the site of one of the two Amazon distribution centers being built along South Road 40 East in Pasco. Photo by Scott Butner Photography

$150M in city projects on deck for next year BY WENDY CULVERWELL


asco will begin construction on a new home for the Tri-Cities Animal Control building by spring 2022. So says David Zabell, Pasco city manager. The animal control facility is by no means the largest or most complicated undertaking on the city’s $150 million capital projects list for the coming year. Water and wastewater plants hold that distinction, along with plans to ask voters to fund an aquatics center. But the shelter is arguably the project Tri-City animal lovers hold dearest and have waited the longest to see come to fruition. The three cities have long worked to replace the aging facility near the Columbia River. Visions

cropped up, then faded. But this time, Zabell said, the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Designs are being finalized. The location is secure. Kennewick and Richland have signed off on their share of the $5 million bill – nearly $1.7 million apiece. It will be under construction in the coming year, he said.

Plenty of projects Pasco promises to be awash in construction in the coming year, both public and private. Private firms confirmed an estimated $1 billion in new food processing plants and distribution warehouses during summer 2021, with construction beginning soon after. The collective impact of new plants for Darigold Inc., Reser’s Fine Foods, Local Bounti and

Amazon Inc. promise to add 3,000 or more jobs to the community and has made Pasco the envy of economic development leaders across the region. But the city itself has its own share of construction to manage. Like the animal control building, the Lewis Street overpass took years to bring forward, but has begun at long last. The $37 million project is the city’s top priority and is backed by local, state and federal money and even real estate excise taxes, the taxes all property sellers pay when sales record. The bridge will carry Lewis Street over the railroad tracks and retire an old, narrow tunnel that runs underneath. Lewis Street is part of a larger downtown update that includes a refresh for both Peanuts Park Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Heavy equipment foreshadows more changes to come to a landscape already marked by agriculture and energy at the site where two Amazon distribution centers, each more than 1 million square feet, will be built north of Sacajawea State Park in Pasco. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography


Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Columbia Riverwalk Apartments are under construction near Road 20 and the Pasco waterfront. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Water, fire, traffic

Moving east, construction begins in 2022 on the A Street Sporting Complex, including soccer and sports fields. The total project cost, funded in part by a state grant, is expected to be $606,000. Water and sewer projects will be some of the costliest undertak- Pasco


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Infrastructure – the unsexy work involved with bringing roads, utilities and other important services to people and businesses – will play a big role in the coming year. In western Pasco, the city is tackling the Road 100-Interstate 182 interchange, which faces a surge in new traffic as Costco, retail developers and residential developers prepare to dig into the Broadmoor area, which is west of Road 100 and Broadmoor Boulevard. The city will add a loop as well as widen the westbound ramp to add capacity. It is city-funded project because it addresses existing demand. That means it’s not appropriate to shift the cost to the

newcomers. Other updates include a turn signal at Broadmoor-Road 100 and Burns Road and getting a city-owned site on Road 100 south of the interchange ready for a future fire station. To the east, the city is working with the state Department of Transportation on options to improve the Road 68 and I-182 interchange. It will build 21 Population 20 a large, two-lane round+19,799 about at from 2010 the Road 68-Court Street intersection, which clogs with commuter traffic in the morning. “A turn signal would work there, but not as well as a roundabout,” Zabell said. Sylvester Road, which runs the length of the city, will get a center turn lane to ease traffic congestion and cut down on left turn accidents.

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the Pasco Farmers Market, and a streetscape improvement campaign to widen sidewalks on Lewis Street between Second and Fifth avenues while adding benches, signs and more. “That will open up a lot of opportunities in that corridor for the business owners,” he said.

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Focus | Construction + Real Estate


ings of the coming year. A $6.5 million water reservoir will bring 5 million gallons of capacity to the area near Road 68 and Burns Road. The city’s wastewater treatment plant, which treats sewage before it’s discharged to the Columbia River, is set for a $20 million update. A later phase will add nearly $3 million more in expenses. The Process Water Reuse Facility, which provides treated water to food processors, will get a $32 million update. The cost will be borne by the facility’s handful of users, not the city’s ratepayers. The Butterfield Water Treatment Plant and the West Pasco Water Treatment Plant will receive $5 million and $1.5 million in updates, respectively. Lest the figures seem large, it’s worth noting that Pasco is only

A turn signal would work (at the Road 68 and I-182 interchange), but not as well as a roundabout. David Zabell, Pasco city manager going to get thirstier. In 2020, it treated and supplied more than 5 billion gallons of drinking water and treated 1 billion gallons of wastewater. Both figures represent a 5% increase over the year prior, courtesy the city’s rising population, currently approaching 80,000 and expected to rise to 120,000 by 2038.

Pasco’s sleeper project And speaking of things that are water-related, Pasco hasn’t

abandoned its dreams of an aquatics center. The Pasco Public Facilities District is expected to ask the city’s voters to approve raising the local sales tax on some but not all items by two-tenths of a percent. If approved, sales tax revenue will support debt to build a $40 million aquatics center. In 2013, Pasco voters supported the aquatics center plan when it was presented to voters across the Tri-Cities, but “no” votes in Richland and Kennewick killed the dream. The city and its facilities district are pursuing the project on their own. They anticipated a 2020 ballot issue, but the project was put on hold by the pandemic. If approved, the sales tax will add 2 cents to a $10 purchase, and the aquatics center will immediately become the city’s highest profile construction project. 

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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

City of Richland Residential construction off Ava Way and Dallas Road on the south slope of Badger Mountain in Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

Pace of progress picks up despite pandemic BY MARY COFFMAN


he pace of progress is on the rise in Richland, where the city has issued nearly twice as many commercial building permits through July 2021 compared to the same time period last year. While the overall number of permits has increased, the value of the projects is coming in lower, said Mandy Wallner, marketing specialist for Richland’s economic development office. “We really have been very well insulated over Covid, and saw an increase in sales tax, as well as an increase in the overall number of active businesses in the community, which has a population of approximately 59,570. “We did see more businesses open than close during the pandemic,” she said.

Through July 2021, the city issued 54 new commercial building permits valued at $35.7 million, compared to 28 permits the previous year during the same period, at a value of about $50.9 million. The trend continues for commercial remodel permits. In the first seven months of 2021, the city issued 75 commercial remodel building permits valued at $14.3 million, compared to 60 during the previous year, at a value of $16.9 million. Permits for new single-family homes are up 16% through July this year, with the city issuing 233 new permits at a value of $80.4 million, compared to 213 in 2020, valued at $67.4 million.

National Guard center One of the largest projects underway is the new readiness center being built by the Washington

Army National Guard on 40 acres in north Richland. The $15 million, 40,000-squarefoot center at 2655 First St. in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park is expected to be complete in early 2022. It will service a Stryker Infantry unit with classrooms and conference rooms, which also will be available for public use. The facility will be used to train reservists for responding to national disasters and other civil responses. “(The Washington Army National Guard) previously did not have a presence here, so I think this is very exciting,” Wallner said. The facility will have a handful of National Guard staff members stationed there permanently, including a recruiter, and about 150 soldiers will attend monthly drills on the weekends and during two weeks each summer. Focus | Construction + Real Estate



The National Guard bought +11,512 the from 2010 40-acre site from the city of Richland for $1.7 million in 2017 and Fowler Construction of Richland is the project’s general contractor.

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Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

North Richland growth Wallner said the city has finished infrastructure improvements at Henderson Loop, creating 18 new sites in the vibrant and

growing area where Iconic Brewing just opened, joining a cluster of other breweries and wineries. The Henderson Loop project will be complete in fall 2022. The sites are being created for more industrial and commercial use, but they must include a commercial component, Wallner said. Wallner said north Richland is one of the fastest growing commercial and residential areas in the city. The city recently completed a new roundabout at the intersection of Clubhouse Lane and Kingsgate Way, opening development for five lots in what is being called the Horn Rapids Com-

Development in the Horn Rapids area in Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

mercial Plaza on the south side of Highway 240. One of the lots is already under contract and will be a gas station/ convenience store. Four other lots, ranging from 1.2 acres to 2.3 acres, also are available for retail development. The plaza is adjacent to the Horn Rapids Golf Course community, which already boasts more than 500 homes and is starting its final phase to add 200 more homes. Across the highway, the new $48 million Vicinity at Horn Rapids apartment complex is under construction. The first phase includes four buildings with 120

We did see more businesses open than close during the pandemic. Mandy Wallner, marketing specialist for Richland’s economic development office units, and the second adds four more buildings, with a total of 168 apartments. The vibrant residential growth bodes well for the future of commercial growth in the area, Wallner said, and she expects keen interest in the available lots at the Horn Rapid Commercial Plaza.

The sites are ideal for retail, office or medical buildings, she said.

Services to meet demand As commercial and residential development sprawls toward the city’s outer boundaries, city services must be developed to meet the demand. The city is building a new fire station, Station 75, and replacing and relocating Station 73. Station 75 at 460 Battelle Blvd. will provide the coverage needed in north central and northeast corners of Richland, home to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University TriCities and many other commercial and industrial businesses in the Focus | Construction + Real Estate


area. The 11,320-square-foot station at the corner of Battelle Boulevard and Port of Benton Boulevard, near George Washington Way, will be staffed by a dozen fire and emergency medical service personnel. The city received a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for up to $2.2 million, which is helping pay for the project. Wallner said relocating and replacing Station 73 will allow for better response times in the northwest part of Richland, covering the rapidly growing residential and commercial areas near Horn Rapids. Station 73 was built in 1958 at 1900 Jadwin Ave., near the intersection of McMurray Street. The facility, which is outdated and not in the best location to provide coverage to north and central Richland, will be moved to a site near the intersection of Jadwin and Highway 240. Although the new fire station, which will be 10,360 square feet, isn’t far from the original Station 73, it provides more direct access to Highway 240, which will help improve response times and coverage in north/ Construction is underway at the new National Guard readiness center at 2655 First St. in Richland. central Richland and Horn Rapids. Photo by Scott Butner Photography Each station will include a full operational fire/EMS station as well as dedicated work spaces for police officers. Wallner said this allows police officers to remain in their assigned zones, allowing for faster response times and higher efficiency. “It has also increased collaboration and community between police and fire,” Wallner said. DGR Grant Construction Inc. of Richland is the general contractor of the fire stations, which were designed by Architects West and Perlman Architects. Construction on both fire stations is expected to be complete in fall The Tides at Willow Pointe, 230 Battelle Blvd., Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography 2021.  56

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Focus | Construction + Real Estate



Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

City of West Richland Residential construction at the Heights at Red Mountain Ranch in West Richland. | Photo by Scott Butner Photography

More bedrooms to bring more commercial development BY KRISTINA LORD


est Richland often is called the TriCities’ bedroom

community. Plenty more bedrooms were built in the past year and more are coming with the buildout of the Heights at Red Mountain Ranch. The west end of the city saw a boom of new home construction in 2021. In 2020, the city recorded a total of 230 single-family residential home permits and zero multifamily permits. In 2019, there were 77 permits total. As of mid-September 2021, the city issued 90 multifamily permits and 210 single-family home permits. “That’s 300 units total this year so far, compared to the 230 we did all last year,” said Eric Mendenhall, West Richland’s

community development director. “When you look at that, that’s pretty significant.” Many feared the pandemic would stall residential construction. “There was a lot of uncertainty during the first quarter of (2021). There was still a lot going on with Covid, with building supplies and materials and the cost of housing, too. So, there’s been a bit of turmoil, but the market seems to be pushing on,” Mendenhall said. Indeed. The city has 599 lots for singlefamily homes and 273 multifamily projects poised for development. “They are not yet permitted and built on. Some are moving forward, possibly this year; others will be pushed to next year,” Mendenhall said.

Heights at Red Mountain Many of the city’s future

lots are coming online at Aho Development’s Heights at Red Mountain Ranch: 415 homes will be built, but they have not yet wound through the city’s permitting process. The next phases will bring the total development to 563 single-family homes, with another 226 multifamily homes. The project is estimated to accommodate 2,249 residents. “They’re moving at a pretty good tick,” Mendenhall said, adding that construction would be humming along even faster if the developer wasn’t facing pandemic-related material and supply delays. The Heights development features sweeping views of Red Mountain, just off Keene Road and West Van Giesen Street. In the past year, the land has been transformed into a new neighborhood, with newly-built houses already filling in with new Focus | Construction + Real Estate


The city of West Richland is building a new, voter-approved police station on Van Giesen Street at the former Tri-Cities Raceway. The $12.5 million project should open by Thanksgiving. | Photo by Kristina Lord

in late September. The Heights will develop toward Ruppert Road to north in future phases. The area includes land earmarked for commercial development. The city is punching through the end of Paradise Way, which had dead-ended not far from Belmont Boulevard, to connect it to West Van Giesen Street. The Paradise extension will provide Heights residents a straight shot to the area near Yoke’s Fresh Market and Bombing Range Road.

Bedroom city no more? The city is connecting Paradise Way to West Van Giesen Street. | Photo by Wendy Culverwell

homeowners. Across the street, crews are making progress on a new city park, called The Heights Park. The asphalt is down at the 7-acre city park for a ¾-length basketball court with two standards and a soccer field. Benches and a play toy were wrapped in plastic and awaiting installation 60

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Let’s revisit the notion of West Richland serving as the area’s commuter community. People often choose to move to West Richland for its smalltown appeal. It’s home to many commuting to Hanford, Energy Northwest and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among other jobs. (Or, they were before the before-pandemic-times brought about working from home.) The city doesn’t have big box stores or chain restaurants or a lot

of retail shops. It doesn’t have a defined downtown. But Mendenhall expects these kinds of developments to follow all the new homes. “As this area continues to grow and you continue to see the rooftops build up here in West Richland, you’re going to see more and more interest in the commercial side of it,” he said. HAPO Community Credit Union recently bought land along Keene Road, near the city’s Municipal Services Building at 3100 Belmont Blvd. A Firehouse Subsanchored store and gas station is under construction next door. The city still has lots for sale along Keene. “We’re really hoping that as that starts to come up out of the ground, that the commercial pads over here will break loose and you’ll see some commercial going in there,” Mendenhall said. Mendenhall said he has been fielding more calls from developers and businesses interested in putting down a stake in West Richland. “I just talked with a restaurant



16,710 +4,899 from 2010)

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The city’s old city hall complex and aging police station on the 3800 block of West Van Giesen Street are undergoing a transformation. Ranchland Homes LLC is building four multifamily buildings with 16 units, with more planned, at 3957 W. Van Giesen St. In addition to the multifamily homes, Ranchland Homes plans to build a mixed-use complex with offices, storage and retail space. The developer has signed a purchase and sale agreement with the city to buy the old police station once the department moves into its new building.

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Old city buildings

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As this area continues to grow and you continue to see the rooftops build up here in West Richland, you’re going to see more and more interest in the commercial side of it. Eric Mendenhall,

said, but the roadwork will improve “curb appeal” in the area.

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this morning about locating here in the city,” he said. The city has a few more reasons to turn its focus to its western boundaries with a new $12.5 million police station, scheduled to open by Thanksgiving. The city bought the former Tri-City Raceway and 93 acres in 2019 with plans to build its new police station and to steer commercial development. A new nonprofit called Friends of Red Mountain Event Center has leased the raceway and has been working to restore the track and launch an event center. Its first big racing event was the Fall Classic in early October 2021.

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“It will bring jobs and people into town, and it’ll be a good thing for the community,” Mendenhall said. New multifamily developments tend to encourage neighbors to step it up with their own improvements to retain tenants, he said. 

West Richland’s community development director

The new voter-approved police station, located on five of the acres, will replace the old, outdated station on Van Giesen Street. The new $4.7 million Benton Fire District’s 4 fire station is across the street at 8031 Keene Road. Also in the neighborhood is Richland School District’s new $11.6 million Teaching, Learning and Administration Center at 6972 Keene Road near Leona Libby Middle School. The state Department of Transportation has plans to widen Van Giesen from the racetrack to the post office in 2024. It’s currently in the design phase, Mendenhall Focus | Construction + Real Estate


Benton & Franklin counties Benton County wraps admin project, while Franklin eyes several smaller projects BY TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS


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enton County, home to nearly 209,300 people in 2021, is wrapping up construction of a new administration building at its justice center campus in Kennewick. The administration building is the largest undertaking by either Benton or Franklin county in 2021. Franklin County, with a population just 500 people shy of the 100,000 mark, has several small projects but nothing major on its docket, said Keith Johnson administrator. It reconfigured offices housing the county assessor and human resources office in the basement of the courthouse and is working on electrical system upgrades at the courthouse and county-owned HAPO Center. “We are considering using American Rescue Plan Act funds for some of these projects,” Johnson said. Across the river, Benton County’s $13.6-plus million new administration building will provide a new Tri-City base for administrators. The county maintains offices in Kennewick and at the county courthouse in Prosser, which remains the seat of government. Administrators will begin moving in October 2021, freeing up space at the existing justice center, 7122 W. Okanogan Place, for courtrelated operations. The existing justice center has metal detectors and secured entrances to protect

judges. The new building offers easier public access. Banlin Construction LLC of Kennewick was the general contractor. The project was amended during the pandemic to provide additional space for workers. Benton County also is moving ahead with plans to convert the 170-acre county-owned fairground site in east Kennewick into a yearround event destination. It previously updated buildings and some infrastructure. The next step is to evaluate the entire property. In September, Benton County’s three-person board of commissioners voted unanimously to award a $236,500 contract with C.H. Johnson Consulting of Chicago and subcontractor MIG of Denver in September to create a master plan. Benton County also is stepping in to lead a longstanding and sometimes confusing effort to establish a behavioral health recovery facility in the Tri-Cities, which is the only community of size in Washington that lacks one. It is pursuing a $1.6 million deal to buy the former Kennewick General Hospital from LifePoint Health, a role formerly held by the Kennewick Public Hospital District. It secured $2.7 million from the state Department of Commerce for architectural and engineering work. It will cost an estimated $20 million to repurpose the old hospital on Auburn Street. LifePoint, parent to Trios Health, will vacate the old hospital when its birthing unit moves to new quarters at Trios Southridge Hospital. 

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