New apartment project honors pioneering builder

The late developer Robert “Bob” Young liked to give his apartment complexes dignified names.

The Villas. Washington Square. Broadmoor. Jadwin Stevens. Highlands.

Young, who lived in San Francisco but left a mark on the Tri-City landscape, died in 2014 at age 82.

The company he founded, once known as Robert Young and Associates, is now led by his son, Grant Young, and is still building. But it is taking a different view when it comes to naming its latest project.

It plans to break ground in January on The Bob, a 192-unit project at 730 SE Columbia Park Trail, near the Steptoe Street roundabout.

“That’s a good tribute to my dad. He always wanted to do things,” said Grant Young, who like his father is based in San Francisco. His business partner, Nick Wright, is based in Richland and is leading The Bob project.

The company is partnering with SRM, a Spokane development firm, to build The Bob, which will cater to high-income renters.

Young and Wright said the name is a fun way to honor Bob Young, a longtime developer behind several apartments and other properties in the Tri-Cities, many of them the first projects of their type in the community.

The Young family bought the Columbia Park Trail property in 2005, intending to develop it. They removed a manufactured home park but plans never materialized. Today, the entrance is blocked by a pair of concrete jersey-style barriers.

Weeds and trees are overtaking the old roads, parking pads and other infrastructure.

The Bob is the company’s first new project in recent years. Wright said it is the right time and apartments were the right fit. Covid-19 has been tough on apartment owners like the Young organization. More tenants are unable to pay rent, but overall, its portfolio is doing well.

The company owns Washington Square One and Jadwin Stevens in north Richland and Pasco’s Broadmoor apartments, developed in 2004.

Wright said SRM suggested “The Bob.” It is a longtime partner and built the Broadmoor, a 252-unit garden-style project at 10305 Chapel Hill Blvd., shortly before the elder Young’s death.

Courtesy Nick Wright

“We were just tossing names around and said, ‘What about The Bob?’ It sounds unique and cool and will be a throwback to Bob Young,” he said.

Grant Young is pleased to honor his father and wants to incorporate his memory into what he said will be an architecturally modern project with metal, wood and other industrial design touches.

The developers say they were inspired by the success of Park Place, the “urban” apartment project that recently opened near the entrance to Howard Amon Park in Richland.

Wright said Park Place gave the team confidence to proceed by proving there is a local appetite for top-tier rental units. Park Place was famously delayed for several years while the Crown Group, its city-selected developer, struggled to secure a loan to build it.

Wright declined to disclose potential rents for The Bob but noted Park Place filled easily. It is advertised at $1,350 to $2,300 per month on apartments.com.

“As soon as Park Place got occupancy, it filled pretty quickly at pretty high rents. Obviously with the Amazons and all the other big businesses coming to town and the housing shortage, we feel confident,” he said.

The project was submitted for review under the state’s Environmental Protection Act, or SEPA, and is being finalized to submit to the city of Richland for building permits. It is being designed in house, Wright said.

Construction could begin as early as next spring and will take 18 to 20 months to complete. The Bob will be managed by Prodigy Property Management, which oversees other Young-owned properties in the Tri-Cities.

The five-building complex will include a mix of 18 studio units, 90 one-bedrooms and 84 two bedrooms. It will have covered parking, a pool and clubhouse.

The top-floor units will offer views over the Port of Benton railroad spur to the Yakima River Delta area. The driveway will be on Columbia Park Trail, with a new left-turn lane planned to improve access.

The local apartment vacancy rate stood at just 1%, according to a spring survey by the University of Washington’s Center for Real Estate Research.

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