FedEx facility gets $6 million overhaul in Pasco

A major expansion of the FedEx footprint is underway at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.

The local hub is getting a $6 million overhaul, increasing in size from 14,000 square feet to 51,000 square feet.

The goal “is to have it look like a brand new building,” said developer Chris A. Smith of CAS Properties. His company has a long history of working with FedEx, having bought or leased land for FedEx facilities since the mid-1980s.

Work got underway at the site at 1705 Argent Road on April 1 and is being fast-tracked for completion by the end of October. Sixty-five employees work at the facility.

Two months into the project, the walls of the new sorting and shipping building are nearly complete. The roof is being constructed in phases.

The upgrades aren’t expected to change the FedEx home delivery experience in the area. A customer would only notice the difference if visiting the Pasco store, across from Sun Willows Golf Course, on the southeastern corner of airport property.

A new customer service facility is expected to be completed by September and will accommodate a half-dozen customers at a time, with three service stations, instead of the current two. Office space for on-site administrators will increase by a third, and the site will get new parking lots for customers and shipment vans.

FedEx has been at the Pasco site since 1992 after moving from Union Street in Kennewick. It has held a right-of-first-refusal agreement with the airport for 4.25 acres of land on Port of Pasco airport property. This has allowed for FedEx’s eventual expansion, an idea that had been considered for years.

“For all of the facilities located in the Northwest, this is probably one of the faster-growing stations. FedEx’s confidence in the Tri-Cities economy has led to this expansion,” Smith said.

Packages shipped by aircraft to the hub will arrive at a facility secured by the Transportation Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, before distribution.

The new building will allow cargo to be unloaded onto a raised sorting platform with a motorized conveyor that runs the length of the processing building, an upgrade from the current system which isn’t mechanized, instead relying on rollers to move packages along.

“The new one will be much more sophisticated,” Smith said.

The building also will include direct access for the planes, on FedEx property, no longer needing to rely on the generosity of the airport sharing its space.

During warmer weather, the airport allows FedEx to keep a plane parked on the pad that’s used for de-icing in the colder months.

The economic impact to the airport from the expansion is negligible, and mostly tied to an increase in leasing the land. The airport will net just under $30,000 a year from FedEx, as compared to the $14,000 it was getting annually prior to the expansion.

“We’re just thrilled that they’re growing here,” said Buck Taft, director of the Tri-Cities Airport. “It just shows how well our community is doing. It’s a huge win for us and we’re happy to have them and glad to have this expansion in our community and not somewhere else.”

Smith is overseeing the project through weekly visits from his office in Seattle, and prefers to hire only local workers to keep the investment locally spent.

“We have discovered that working in Eastern Washington, we have a much better work force than we get west of the mountains. There’s better family structure here. People care more about their lives and their families and their kids,” Smith said. This includes masonry work from Aden Construction, site work from Granite Construction and Ray Poland and Sons, as well as Tri-Ply Construction as the general contractors. Up to 50 workers can be on the site at any given time.

“I’ve never — in any city, anywhere, in the western United States — been treated better than the people here (at the Tri-Cities Airport),” Smith said.

The Pasco FedEx Ship Center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

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