City, Port of Kennewick move forward with Columbia Gardens

Dirt will soon fly at the site of the planned Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village in historic downtown Kennewick.

Columbia Gardens is a joint project between the Port of Kennewick, which owns the land, and the City of Kennewick, which is building a wine-wastewater treatment facility and adding streetscaping to the site.

The Port has committed to build three buildings on the 16-acre site across from Zip’s and adjacent to Duffy’s Pond on East Columbia Drive. The buildings will eventually house boutique wineries.

The Columbia Gardens project is part of an overall plan to reclaim the Columbia River shoreline in that area.

“About 120 people from the community showed up for the groundbreaking, which says how much interest there is in reclaiming the waterfront,” said Tana Bader Inglima, deputy CEO for the Port.

Bader Inglima said the development will provide the area with a wonderful new gathering space and new retail and restaurant options.

Construction on the project was briefly delayed earlier this year when the first call for bids put out by the Port of Kennewick were all rejected. Five bids were received for construction of the buildings and the infrastructure necessary to support them; all were $1 million or more over budget.

Part of the reason the bids were so high is the building as originally designed by Terence L. Thornhill, Architect, used an innovative wall system, one unfamiliar to contractors in the Northwest.

After talking with the contractors, Larry Peterson, director of planning and development for the Port, discovered labor costs were a key element in driving up the cost of the original design.

Peterson told commissioners that the contractors submitting the original bids were all worried about the time involved in constructing the buildings. Labor costs run about 50 percent of any project, we said, and with unknown materials and building methods the contractors were worried labor costs would explode.

To save money and move forward with the project, Port Commissioners voted to complete it in phases. They also chose to use building techniques and more common materials while maintaining the overall look of the design.

The redesign of the buildings is being finalized and once completed the Port can put out a call for bids, likely sometime in September.

In the meantime, the Port approved Big D’s Construction contract of $277,655 for underground and utility work at the site.

The City of Kennewick is also committed to the installation of a wine-effluent pre-treatment system as well as streetscaping, sidewalks, street lighting and additional work on the scenic nature trail by Duffy’s Pond, said City of Kennewick spokesperson, Evelyn Lusignan.

“Those improvements have an estimated total cost of $1.3 million … but the city expects the city’s portion of the project to come out under this amount,” Lusignan said, adding that bids on these should go out in late summer.

“The site work and underground utilities are not as sexy as a new building but are so very important. We’re moving and grooving all the time and are still shooting to be opening Columbia Gardens next spring — maybe April,” Bader Inglima said.

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