Downtown group to use grant to transform Flag Plaza

A grant designed to transform downtown Kennewick’s Flag Plaza could help to expand its farmers market, host more frequent and diverse events and create space for public gatherings and food truck dining.

The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership (HDKP) received one of four Washington Main Street Communities grants to improve the area.

“We have been dreaming about the potential of Flag Plaza as a public gathering space for a long time and the timing of this grant opportunity matches the momentum we have downtown for developing public spaces and investing in our public amenities,” said Stephanie Button, executive director of HDKP.

Work planning the $12,000 project will begin over the next 90 days.

HDKP and its downtown Kennewick partners will receive technical assistance from Samantha Lorenz of Terra Soma LLC, as it develops a plan to pilot how Flag Plaza could be redeveloped into a space that delivers economic value in ways that benefit neighbors and local businesses.

Terra Soma, with offices in Washington state, offers community planning, public engagement, strategic communications and planning, and research services.

HDKP will receive $1,500 in technical assistance from Terra Soma. The grant totaled $2,000, which HDKP matched.

“We are hoping to raise an additional $5,000 to allow us to fully build out our vision,” Button said.

HDKP also secured $45,000 in the state’s capital budget to improve nonresidential community and social service centers.

Button said it will be used to upgrade the electrical infrastructure at the plaza for future projects like EV charging stations,  power to food trucks and more lighting.  

“The partners and vision that HDKP brought to the table for their Flag Plaza proposal really inspired us,” said Breanne Durham, director of Washington Main Street. “The planning team is clear-headed, creative and collaborative – it’s a pilot with lots of potential for long-term impact.”

In 2020, HDKP piloted a street closure program downtown called Alfresco Downtown Kennewick, where it created a boardwalk-style environment that enabled restaurants and stores to expand into the streets. It also involved inviting food trucks and entrepreneurs to set up pop-up locations.

This Covid-19-relief program dramatically increased the vitality of downtown, and businesses in the district reported 30%-60% increase in sales during the life of the program, Button said.

“We learned that opening up temporary public spaces for people, social exchanges and expanded commerce and dining opportunities was a successful experiment,” she said.

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