Port of Pasco: Industrial land in high demand

The Port of Pasco’s Processing Center is at capacity, and it has sold all the lots at the Foster Wells Business Park.

It’s also moving ahead with plans to develop Osprey Pointe and a new industrial center.

The port knows industrial land is in high demand and has been working to accommodate growth in this sector. Meanwhile, the port also is grappling with budget challenges stemming from lost revenue from airline travel.

Within the past six months, 17 years since the first Foster Wells lot sold in 2003, the port sold the last remaining parcels.

New tenants at the business park off Highway 395 include Pioneer Packaging, All Seasons Contractor, Kenyon Zero Storage and Callies Welding and Fabrication. The new tenants joined Second Harvest, Rock Placing Company, Volm, Teton Gold and PECCAS LLC.

“We sold eight lots in the last year, so that put us on the fast track to purchase an additional park,” said Mayra Reyna, the port’s director of properties, referring to the new 300-acre Reimann Industrial Center, a mile north of the Pasco Processing Center.

There’s been an increase in demand for industrial lots, Reyna said.

“We’ve been in a slump for a couple of years where we did not see a lot of sales, but all of a sudden there was an increase in interest, and those interested knew they had to come in quick because prices would continue to escalate since there is less inventory out there.”

“Industrial businesses seem to be weathering the effects of Covid,” said Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director.

The travel industry — not so much.

Tri-Cities Airport

The Tri-Cities Airport, like other airports across the country, has had to navigate a sharp decline in passenger travel after state-mandated closures took effect in March to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Hayden said he predicts it will take nearly two years for travel volume to reach pre-Covid levels, noting air travel is running about 70% of 2019 volumes.

Still, that’s a remarkable return for an airport that saw passenger traffic drop a staggering 95% in March.

“It has been steadily increasing since then,” Hayden said.

The airport received $5.8 million in federal assistance thanks to a coronavirus rescue package passed by Congress in March. It offset operating costs and debt payments to make up for the lost passenger and landing fees caused by the Covid-19 slowdown.

“That is keeping us in the black at this point, and we’re hoping those dollars will get us through the year,” Hayden said.

The port, which has more than 88,000 people living within its boundaries, oversees a
$41.5 million budget.

“We might need to look for additional assistance or make further cuts. We have cut all capital projects we don’t have grants for and had to reduce staff,” Hayden said. Some of those capital improvement projects included landscaping work around the terminal and parking lot improvements on Terminal Loop Road.

The port was able to offer qualifying businesses relief through its own rent deferral program. Hayden said all the airlines and concessionaires operating inside the airport have taken the port up on the offer.

But the port’s belt-tightening hasn’t stalled construction on the Taxiway A project at the airport. When complete, it will create 4,200 feet of new taxiway, 4,200 feet of rehabilitated taxiway and bring the airport in line with current Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Reimann Industrial Center

In October 2019, the port bought 300 acres of land for $6.5 million for the future home of the Reimann Industrial Center. The deal came after a long search for land close to the highway, utilities and the BNSF Railway network.

Randy Hayden, executive director of the Port of Pasco, left, and Mayra Reyna, director of properties, stand inside a warehouse at the port-owned Big Pasco Industrial Center. (Photo by Elsie Puig)

The land sits between Highway 395 and Railroad Avenue a mile north of Pasco.

Funding came from the port’s Economic Development Opportunity Fund and a $2.25 million loan from the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Board. The purchase included water rights, which can be used for agricultural and industrial purposes.

Master planning for the area is underway, said Hayden, with the first phase of design and environmental assessment expected to be completed by December 2020. Construction won’t begin until spring 2021.

The Reimann Industrial Center will have nine 20- to 40-acre lots and 13 smaller lots, each consisting of 2 to 5 acres. It’s expected to inject $5 million in additional property taxes, including $3 million for schools.

It could cost $20 million to $30 million for infrastructures like roads, sewer, rail and power to serve the site.

“It will likely have food processors and other ag-related industries coming in,” Hayden said. “With this new development we’re not only satisfying a demand but we’re also bringing in family-wage jobs to our community, supporting our local growers and the increase in taxes will support our community services.”

Osprey Pointe

James Sexton, owner of JMS Development, stands at the Port of Pasco’s Osprey Pointe, where he plans to develop a mix of commercial and residential buildings. (Photo by Elsie Puig)

The port also has partnered with JMS Development to develop 55 acres at Osprey Pointe — a 110-acre waterfront property along the south side of East Ainsworth Avenue overlooking the Columbia River.

Osprey Pointe has land available for lease or sale — currently for five tenants — for office, research and development facilities, and commercial uses.

“The vision is for a vibrant mixed-use development that will include public amenities along the waterfront,” Hayden said.

“This is a big project,” said James Sexton, president of JMS Development, based in Kennewick.

“It will be a living and working community. There will be enough jobs that people will be able to bike, walk or even kayak to work.”

The site plan includes three buildings with 72 residential condo units, four buildings with 60 condos, an 80,000-square-foot event center, an outside arena, and an 86,000-square-foot marketplace that can accommodate 120 vendors.

There also will be a hotel with 150 to 200 rooms.

Sexton said the entire development will take five to seven years to complete. He hopes to start building the marketplace in fall 2020 and have it ready by spring.

He said is waiting for the city of Pasco to issue rezoning permits before beginning the residential units.

Big Pasco

The port’s Reyna said building improvements and updates to the Big Pasco Industrial Center warehouses are underway.

The project includes repairing three miles of industrial roadway within the park and adding stormwater management.

“We’re trying to adapt the buildings to today’s uses. The upgrades and improvements to our warehouses have been well received,” she said.

Big Pasco is at 88% capacity, with three warehouses left.

Another development in the works is The Landing LLC, within the Tri-Cities Airport Business Center, on the corner of Argent Road and Varney Lane.

Kennewick developer John Hawley hopes to break ground on the first of two buildings in late 2020. The first project is a four-story multitenant commercial building, and the second is a six-store retail building.

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