City of Pasco: Record-breaking growth pushes further west, north

By Andrew Kirk

Pasco’s residential subdivisions continue to gobble up farmland and large buildings are sprouting up all over industrial zones.

Franklin County is offering to let the city annex 4,800 acres of land to the north so it has room to grow, said Rick White, community and economic development director for Pasco.

Prior to the Great Recession, 2005 set the record for building permits—of all types—in Pasco with 2,445.

That record was broken in 2017, with 2,616 permits, and again in 2018, with 2,686.

Pasco is on pace to set a new record in 2019—it processed 1,947 permits through Sept. 1, 2019.

Through the first eight months of 2019, the city received applications for 278 commercial permits valued at $67 million, and 48 industrial permits valued at $9 million.

During the same period the previous year, commercial permits totaled 295, valued at $28 million, and industrial permits totaled 57, valued at $27 million.

The development activity is happening in numerous locations, as well, White said. Along Interstate 182, it is visible between roads 44 and 68.

“Former Department of Natural Resources property on Road 68 is being developed as fast as they can plat lots,” White said.

Property owners with acreage surrounding their homes have begun infilling the land along Court Street between roads 48 and 56 and 58 through 62, he said.

The Chapel Hill subdivision east of Road 68 on the south side of the freeway continues to grow. The Sandifur Crossing shopping complex was under construction in summer 2019, and several businesses are rebuilding or doing significant remodels on Lewis Street and Clark Street in central Pasco. New homes and businesses still are going up in east Pasco, as well.

And after years of planning for it, the gravel pit west of Broadmoor Boulevard is finally getting water and sewer service critical for development, White said. With nowhere else to grow and population growth predicted for years to come, the city took action, White said. Plans are in the works for development of the area from Broadmoor to the river and then north, he said.

The population of Pasco exceeds 75,000. In the next 20 years it is expected to grow to 121,000 and that’s the “moderate” forecast, White said.

Pasco has a young population—the median age is below 29. That’s significantly younger than residents in Richland and Kennewick, he said. And the average family size is larger than its neighbors across the river.

The city’s plan for this growth forecasts for 50 years and then breaks it down into six- and 10-year increments. Right now the plan calls for 3,600 additional acres for urban areas with accompanying water and sewer. The new sewer lines going in under the I-182 bridge over the river and north to Harris Road should serve the area up to Burns Road for the next 10 years. But growth north of Burns Road is predicted —including a site for a new high school—so the city also is looking for sites for new water reservoirs. Two new schools also are under construction near Broadmoor and expected to open in fall 2020, White said.

Three Rivers Elementary School off Road 84 in Pasco. (Photo by Taryn Harkness)

The new neighborhoods in the Broadmoor area will be more dense—and walkable.

“It will follow a different development pattern… land use opportunities will be much more varied. It won’t just be one home per quarter-acre lot,” he said.

And 140 acres near Burden Boulevard are zoned for commercial development, with plans for smaller businesses—more “everyday shopping” than what has been typical of west Pasco commercial development, White said.

“If you threw a dart in the middle of Tri-Cities, it’d be right there,” he said.

The plans for the Broadmoor area attracted Numerica Credit Union to build a branch there. The building is expected to open in December 2019, said Kelli Hawkins, Numerica’s spokeswoman.

“When you look at the area of Broadmoor, it is central to the Tri-Cities area… it will be a mixed use of residential, commercial and public amenities so we will be close to where our members live, work and play,” she said.

The Sandifur Crossing development at the intersection of Road 68 and Sandifur has already welcomed several anchor tenants—including Grocery Outlet—and several more retailers and restaurants have already pledged to open there.

“Hogback Development Co. chose to develop Sandifur Crossing on Road 68 in west Pasco due to the current and future tremendous growth potential,” said Chris Waddle, lead developer at Hogback, in an email. “This property benefits from strong daily draw provided by dense surrounding residential, high exposure from a preeminent retail arterial and five retail pads currently in development. West Pasco has already been named the fastest growing (metropolitan statistical area) in Washington state, and the future looks even brighter for this fast-growing trade area.”

The city’s investments in east Pasco include the Lewis Street overpass project, improvements to the downtown farmers market and nearby Fourth Street. Converting Lewis Street from an underpass to an overpass will allow the city to demolish the aging bridge and better connect east Pasco to the downtown area, improving the economy in both neighborhoods. The project will begin in late 2019, White said.

Ed Mulhausen, owner of Burger Ranch, said the overpass could give his restaurant more visibility, but previous street projects have hurt his business. 

“The last two projects took twice as long as they said. The last one was finished in April (2019) … and we still haven’t recovered from it. We’re still behind 2017 sales,” he said.

Mulhausen said he gets good traffic from the police station, hospital and other workers from downtown businesses. The overpass could make it difficult to get to Burger Ranch, depending on the final street layout. He said he’s expressed his concerns to city engineers.

Alejandra Garcilazo, owner of Palacio 226 Hair Salon on West Lewis Street near the underpass, said the project has been promised for several years but it hasn’t started yet.

“I hope it does. I don’t have any parking where my business is at,” she said. “In the layout—as shown on a paper we got in the mail—the street had more parking in the picture. So hopefully it will help,” she said.

Germán Daleana, manager of the Lewis Street Economart on East Lewis Street, near the railroad tracks, said the underpass is bad for the neighborhood.

“It’s been there forever and needs to be rebuilt. If people go over, there won’t be so much trash. I walk to work and it’s nasty, stinky and smells like piss. Too many homeless people use it as a shelter when it rains,” he said. “It will make Pasco look way better.”

A $4 million renovation of Peanuts Park—named after a beloved resident who frequented the area—and the farmers market will make the area near Fourth Street and Lewis Street more modern, White said. The market’s roof will be lowered and more shade covering installed. The grade will be flattened and a private developer will convert a vacant building on the east side of the market into a dining destination.

“Peanuts Park will be unrecognizable when it’s done,” White said. Work is scheduled to begin in December 2019.

El Torito MX Market Supervisor Daniella Quinones said the busy farmers market brings more people to the neighborhood. Her store sits adjacent to the park. She saw a rendering of the city’s plans for the block about a year ago and said it “definitely” looked like a positive. “I think it would bring more people to the area,” she said.

A streetscape renovation to replace trees and sidewalk panels along Fourth will narrow the street and widen sidewalks. The grade also will be flattened so it will be curbless, which would be an ideal festival venue, White said.

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