By Sean Bassinger
Business owners in downtown Kennewick sense the excitement building as the new wine village takes shape along the Columbia Drive riverfront.
“It’s just the perfect time to be there,” said Liz Thompson, who co-owns ET Estate Sales with her husband, Mark. The Thompsons are moving back to the retail area after outgrowing their space in Richland.
The Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Wine Village — a 5.4-acre river-facing development — already has two wineries that plan to open up their operations and tasting rooms there this summer.
Neighboring business owners have been watching the progress.
Ann Steiger, owner of Roxy Theatre Antiques & Gifts, said it’s an exciting time to be in downtown Kennewick as her own store on Kennewick Avenue approaches its 14th anniversary in February.
She said she hasn’t seen a project this large in the historic downtown Kennewick area since she’s been there. She commended the port and city on their continued efforts to take advantage of the riverfront.
“I think any momentum that we can get going within our business district here is wonderful,” she said. “We have a lot to offer — we think there’s a lot to be shared with the whole Tri-Cities.”
Victorino Mendoza, who’s owned El Chapala Mexican Restaurant on Columbia Drive since 2006, thinks the wine village will be a good addition. He recently met with the port-commissioned artist who will paint a 672-foot Latino heritage mural in the wine village.