The Port of Benton plans to kick-start a new 21-lot development with a $2 million incubator building in Prosser designed to attract boutique businesses to complement the neighboring Vintner Village.
Construction on the new building, which will include three bays for businesses, as well as an adjacent office building for a nonprofit, is expected to begin in mid-May.
The port’s popular Vintner Village development already is home to a number of wineries just south of Interstate 82, including Martinez & Martinez Winery and Willow Crest Winery, as well as Yellow Rose Nursery.
Tourists can enjoy walking paths and stay at a 1900s farmhouse that’s been restored as a bed and breakfast.
“Tourism is huge in Prosser,” said Port of Benton Director Scott Keller. “They get thousands of (tourists). People come over from Seattle. They want to get out of the rain.”
More than 50,000 people visit the area’s wineries and attend local events annually, according to the Prosser Economic Development Association, or PEDA.
The 32-acre Vintner Village has been successful and the development “went like a ball of fire,” Keller said. “We ran out of land, so we bought the land to the south of it.”
Along with the $2 million the port invested in roads and infrastructure for Vintner Village, private investments from businesses totaled between $30 million and $40 million, Keller said.
The port bought the 25 acres to the south of the development for $1.2 million and invested another $1.5 million in infrastructure, and for the past three to four years has been working to sell the lots in Vintner Village II.
However, commercial lending has tightened since the financial crisis and growth stalled.