Building permits surge with Pasco’s population

Commercial building permits issued in Pasco edged ahead of last year, while single-family home permits were well above those issued for the same period.

And next year’s outlook also looks positive, said Rick White, community and economic development director for the city of Pasco.

“Things look good. Food products and distribution activities continue to be very strong, as is technology associated with food processing,” he said. “The residential sector continues strong with a dozen or so preliminary plats on line.”

The city issued 302 single-family home permits valued at $80 million for the first six months of 2017. Last year’s total for the same time period was 216 permits worth $53 million.

White attributed the increase to having “a larger supply of available building lots” this year.

The first six months of 2016 netted 222 commercial building permits, valued at $26.4 million, compared to 235 permits, valued at $21.8 million, for the same period this year.

Columbia Basin College’s student housing building and the Russ Dean RV sales center on Sandifur Parkway and Road 100 were among the city’s largest commercial construction projects.

Pasco School District’s alternative high school, New Horizons, saw $2.5 million in remodeling work this year. The school at 2020 W. Argent Road spent nearly three decades housed in a series of portables on the west end of the CBC campus. The newly remodeled school is 32,500 square feet, after construction repurposed the old CH2M Hill Technology building on the CBC campus for the high school.

Though plans aren’t solidified, commercial construction in 2018 is expected to see continued growth.

“I would expect several larger industrial projects in the 395 corridor and near the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway and Commercial Avenue intersection,” White said.

The city’s economic growth focuses on several areas, including downtown; the Oregon Avenue-Highway 395 corridor; Commercial Avenue; the Broadmoor area at Interstate 182 and Broadmoor Boulevard; and commercial property at the southwest corner of Road 68 and I-182.

“(We’re) continuing development of the area west of the airport and north of I-182, and the area recently sold by the Department of Natural Resources west of Road 68 and south of I-182,” White said.

DNR auctioned 230 acres of prime real estate last year just south of I-182 between roads 68 and 84 and Argent Road, and north of Chiawana High School for more than $8.1 million.

Economic growth efforts also focus on “much in-fill of smaller (25- to 30-acre) parcels throughout town,” White said.

A recent commercial project standout is the $50 million Auto Zone warehouse at 3733 Capital Ave. near King City Truck Stop. The 443,819-square-foot distribution center supplies 235 stores, and brought about 200 new jobs to Pasco.

The 93.4-acre site in Pasco was selected over four other cities in the Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin.

Ground broke on the new $8 million Pasco Police Community Services Building in June 2015. The 38,000-square-foot building opened at 215 W. Sylvester St. in February 2017.

“Our old police facility was about 14,000 square feet and was designed in the early ’90s for a staff of 50. We now have a staff of 100 working out of the new facility,” said police Capt. Ken Roske, public information officer. The increase in personnel parallels the growth of the city – Pasco has more than doubled in population in the past 16 years.

Pasco, population 71,680, grew 1.5 percent in the last year. The city grew 123 percent from 2000-17, adding 39,614 people.

“Accessibility of the old police building was always an issue as it was located on the second floor, making it less visible and difficult to get to by the public,” Roske said. “The new police community building has easy ground floor access with handicap and public parking right out front. It is a well-lit building, making for a safe, inviting feel when the public visits.”

The new facility’s attached community room is available for meetings and “provides an opportunity for us to hold joint meetings that allow for police/community interaction,” Roske said.

The building, at the east end of the city hall campus, boasts state-of-the-art technology for police operations and investigations with secure forensic evidence storage. Detectives also can access a modern computer laboratory that has become imperative with the increase in computer crimes, Roske said.

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