Richland notes growth in both public, private sectors

The last year in the Tri-Cities was a busy one for all jurisdictions, and Richland was no different. Changes and improvements were made in many areas throughout the city, from building roads and upgrades, to new developments and increased rooftops, adding new businesses and growing some of our favorite businesses.

Richland celebrated the completion of improvements on the first phase of the Columbia Park Trail corridor, and the opening of two new fire stations, Station 75 on Battelle Boulevard and Station 73 at 2120 Jadwin Ave. The relocation of Station 73 will open up the former site on the corner of Jadwin and McMurray avenues for reuse or redevelopment.

Each year the city is surprised at the growth we see in the number of permits processed and inspections conducted. The 2021 numbers reflect the growth the area is seeing across all types of development. Through November, the building department issued 384 new single-family dwelling permits valued at $133.38 million, which is an increase of 43 new homes and more than $100 million from last year. Richland also saw growth in new commercial projects. There were more projects permitted in 2021, but total valuation lagged a bit. The city’s Building Department issued 76 new commercial permits valued at $46.87 million compared to 49 valued at $58.7 million during 2020.

Commercial remodel projects remained strong through the same period and are up this year with 106 commercial remodel projects valued at $19.43 million, compared to 88 issued at $87.81 million in 2020.

Overall growth in the market and in the permitting numbers and the shifts in value, are attributed to large construction projects, such as schools, and other municipal buildings permitted in years past.

In addition, inspections were up 8% year over year through November, with 13,926 were conducted. Plan reviews also are up by 404 this year for a total of 1,660 so far, exceeding the 2020 number of 1,256.

The Washington State Military Department’s new Readiness Center takes shape in Richland and will serve a Stryker brigade when it opens. (Photo by Scott Butner Photography)

There are several major economic development projects in the works around the city, as well as key properties that are up for sale or in negotiation for near term deals.

The CityView property, owned by the city, will be available for Requests For Proposals in spring 2022. Additionally, a public safety feasibility study is nearing completion for determining the best use of city-owned property at the corner of Swift Boulevard and George Washington Way for municipal purposes. City staff also is working diligently with a developer on an agreement for Tracts D and E on Columbia Point.

Privately there are several other key properties that have seen improvements in the last year such as the complex at 1080 George Washington Way, which reached full occupancy with the final addition of Pedego Electric Bikes to the neighborhood. This new business addition fills the building and complements the other tenants such as Porter’s Real Barbecue, Tri-Cities Cider House, Fresh Leaf Company and Amarillis Meat Market.

The Parkway also welcomed new businesses, saw some grow and created space through redevelopment of several buildings. Soi 705 is one of the new businesses to join the Parkway and is home to Mezzo Thai’s catering business. Oh Sushi and Hotoveli Boutique also joined the Parkway fun. If you haven’t visited The Parkway for a late morning stroll, coffee and pastry, or early evening for a cocktail and dinner, be sure to put this on your list for the coming year.

The Horn Rapids Business Center and Industrial Park saw new business activity this year as well with the construction of the Washington State Military Department Readiness Center and the opening of the new Iconic Brewing, just to name a couple.

The extension of First Street in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park also offers the opportunity to create several new lots that will be for sale in 2022.

The design of the Henderson Loop Extension has been a focus this year to open additional properties for the final phase of the Business Center. The Clubhouse Lane project, adjacent to the Horn Rapids Residential development, was completed this year. The new segment of road opened up five commercial lots for sale and development.

Across the highway, at the corner of Highway 240 and Kingsgate, Firehouse Subs and SunMarket brought the first convenience options to the Horn Rapids area and will no doubt be the first of many that the area welcomes.

Directly behind this development is the growing Vicinity at Horn Rapids apartment complex developing in two phases, with multiple buildings totaling 288 apartments ranging in size from studio to two-bedroom units that are occupying quickly in a market with 1% vacancy rates.

In September, Washington State University Tri-Cities celebrated the grand opening of its new Collaboration Hall on the Richland campus. This 40,000-square-foot building houses several teaching laboratories, classrooms, meeting spaces for students and faculty, as well as study spaces with open seating for lectures and presentations. The city is excited for the partnership, education and opportunities that WSU Tri-Cities offers to the region.

In October, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory dedicated its new $90 million Energy Sciences Center to help meet the U.S. decarbonization goals by reducing emissions, supporting research energy storage technologies and solutions, and continuing to add efficiencies in manufacturing. PNNL is not only a vital partner in the success of our region but is also one of the largest employers.

The Richland School District also was busy making accommodations for new students moving to the area and their passion for sports and the arts. Richland High School’s theater underwent a complete $7.7 million remodel before the 2021 school year and Hanford High School made investments in its athletic fields. Badger Mountain Elementary School is undergoing a full rebuild on its existing site. Once completed, the former school will be removed to allow for playfields to support the school.

There are exciting things happening in Richland, stay tuned for more projects, news and updates in the coming months.

Mandy Wallner is economic development manager for the city of Richland.

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