Construction on south side of mountain points to more growth

Signs of new construction on the south side of Badger Mountain—including a new service station and convenience store that will include a fast-food chicken restaurant—signal more growth coming to the planned development that’s been years in the making.

Badger Mountain South’s owner and developer Nor Am Investments has an end-goal of building 5,000 household units, comprised of homes and apartments, filling nearly 1,500 acres in the high-growth area of Richland at the “back side” of Badger Mountain in the next 18 years.

Hundreds of homes have sprouted up in recent years and more are coming to the outskirts of Richland city limits, near the border of West Richland, east of Interstate 82 off Dallas Road.

“The city of Richland is very pleased to see the progress and development that is taking place in the Badger Mountain South community. As of July 1, there were 553 permitted residential units, 276 of which are associated with the apartments currently under construction. Additionally, a development known as Goose Ridge Estates has recently received preliminary plat approval for approximately 103 residential units,” said Kerwin Jensen, Richland’s development services director.

The $725,000 service station and convenience store now under construction is set to open this fall and plans are in the works for a mini-storage business on the west side of Dallas Road.

The 76 service station will be at 5151 Trowbridge Blvd. at the corner of Dallas Road. The 4,000-square-foot building will feature a modern façade, a drive-thru coffee shop and a Chester’s restaurant.

The Alabama-based fast-food chicken franchise is known for its bone-in fried chicken, boneless wings, chicken tenders and several sides. Entrepreneur magazine ranked the franchise No. 110 on its top 500 list. In 2018, Chester’s operated 1,192 franchises. It often partners with convenience stores, travel centers, truck stops and supermarket delis, according to its website.

The service station is owned by Ajsa LLC, based in Kennewick, which also owns gas stations in Pasco, Richland, Walla Walla and Burbank.

Quality Backhoe Services in Pasco and Rapid Service of Spanaway are the contractors for the project.

The service station is expected to open in mid-October and will be the second retail location at the master-planned community. Country Mercantile opened a second store on Ava Way in 2015.

Original vision

The original plan put the development’s completion at 2030, but following a slow start, the revised date is now 2037.

The developer’s representative, Dan Bruchman of Windermere Group One in Richland, expects it will be completed well before that.

“We actually re-upped a 20-year entitlement so we have 18 years left, and at the rate that we’re growing now, we will actually hit the 5,000 housing units far before the entitlement expires. Now we literally can’t get them constructed quickly enough,” he said.

It’s an about-face for the pace of growth in the community with a vision of “residential neighborhoods that provide a variety of housing types, styles and densities to serve a broad spectrum of incomes, ages, and life stages.”

This includes higher-density housing, such as the $43.7 million apartment complex that got underway earlier this year along Bella Coola Lane. Copper Mountain Apartments will contain about 280 units intended for low-income tenants.

Single-family homes in Badger Mountain South originally faced stringent restrictions on aesthetics, with garages facing an alley instead of the street. It was thought these guidelines, along with other limitations, were the reason for the lagging development seen about five years into the first phase. The city eventually removed some of the restrictions.

Now, about 300 single-family homes are completed, with another 178 lots targeted for completion, and the start of new home construction beginning this fall. The new homes will be part of the West Village and West Vineyard neighborhoods.

Future West Village homes are intended to be listed by spring and summer 2020, totaling about 131 lots, with another 110 lots ready before the end of next year, Bruchman said.

Badger Mountain South is an “open plat” community, which allows any private party or homebuilder to buy lots there.

“There’s such a backlog of builders,” Bruchman said.

Some currently represented include New Tradition, Viking, Prodigy and Hammerstrom. There are about 1,000 acres remaining for development, and the density of a builder’s footprint mostly correlates with what it buys when lots come available after infrastructure improvements, like sewer and water access.

“It’s just a matter of what they have in their war chest, as far as land acquisition at the time the phases come on as far as the size of the bite they take,” Bruchman said.

With homes, come schools

In addition to the home projects, the Richland School District owns 53 acres within the community, with plans to build an elementary school on the site. The future school project was included in a $99 million bond measure approved by voters in 2017.

“Its construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in the next several years depending on enrollment growth,” said Ty Beaver, spokesman for the Richland School District.

This would be the district’s 12th elementary school. Students living in the Badger Mountain South neighborhood currently attend White Bluffs Elementary School.

The Kennewick School District also owns 14 acres within the Richland development, with the intention of eventually adding a school there also.

Amon Creek Elementary was the first school to open within the Kennewick district’s boundaries that was also within Richland city limits.

“We have no immediate plans to build on this property until more housing is built. Our current assessment, based on information we received from the city, suggests that our next school should be built along the Bob Olson Parkway. We have not determined the final site of elementary school No. 18 that was included in the 2019 bond that voters approved in February. The current timeline has it opening sometime between 2022 and 2025,” said Robyn Chastain, Kennewick district spokeswoman.

A park and places to worship

A 30-acre park is also in the “foreseeable future” and would include multi-purpose athletic fields, creating another large park in Richland that would be about two-thirds the size of Howard Amon Park.

Nor Am Investments said the company is master planning the fields with the Richland Parks Department and the Richland School District.

Directly adjacent to the planned park and Richland school sites is the future location of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stake center.

Bruchman said the stake center will be on the corner of Trowbridge Boulevard and Bella Coola Lane, on land purchased for $600,000.

Additionally, Bruchman said land at Ava Way and Bellaview Avenue was purchased for $367,000 and is intended for a future Sikh temple.

The construction timeline for both worship centers is still pending.

Future progress

Kadlec is expected to be an anchor tenant for the 43-acre neighborhood considered a “wellness campus.” The Richland health care provider owns a five-acre parcel but has no immediate plans for development, according to Kadlec.

Future development of the wellness campus is expected to begin next fall, and will include residential units intended for active adults and retirees, falling in line with the master-planned community’s vision to include housing options across all life stages.

“Badger Mountain South is one of the fastest growing areas within the Richland city limits and this development has added a significant amount of revenue to the city’s tax base,” Jensen said.

Bruchman said there are multiple commercial opportunities in Badger Mountain South still available immediately, with more on the way.

Zoning varies for the commercial lots, which total about 200 acres, including about 84 acres along Dallas Road and I-82 zoned by the city as C-1 for “areas which primarily provide retail products and services for the convenience of nearby neighborhoods with minimal impact to the surrounding residential area.”

Other newly-constructed commercial lots along Dallas and Trowbridge are expected to be available for sale this fall.

Bruchman said the developer holds letters of intent for retail businesses intending to come to Badger Mountain South, but cannot yet disclose any specifics until a purchase and sale agreement is in place.

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