Real Estate & Construction Briefs – April 2022

Report: Share of millennial homebuyers continues to rise

The share of millennial homebuyers nationwide increased significantly over the past year. This group also is the most likely generation to use the internet to find the home they ultimately purchase and most likely to use a real estate agent.

This is according to the latest study from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which examines the similarities and differences of recent homebuyers and sellers across generations.

The NAR report found that the combined share of younger millennial (23 to 31 years old) and older millennial buyers (32 to 41 years old) rose to 43% in 2021, up from 37% the year prior.

Almost two out of three younger millennials, or 65%, found the home they ultimately bought on the internet, a number that gradually decreases with older generations.

Eighty-seven percent of all buyers bought their home through an agent. This number was highest with younger millennials (92%) and older millennials (88%).

Those between the ages of 42 and 56 – Generation X – had the highest median household income at $125,000. They bought the most expensive and second-largest homes nationwide at a median price of $320,000 and size of 2,300 square feet, respectively. Older millennials purchased the largest homes at 2,400 square feet, and the silent generation – those between the ages of 76 and 96 – bought the smallest at 1,800 square feet.

Across all generations, the largest share of buyers purchased in suburban areas (51%) and small towns (20%).


Pasco plans for next-gen ag water treatment facility

Pasco is looking to upgrade the plant where it treats wastewater from agricultural activities to extend its life and add an intriguing new element: Facilities to produce Renewably Natural Gas (RNG) from the water.

The city announced a request for proposals from developers in March. The deadline to submit is April 22, with a contract set to be signed around July 1.

The existing Industrial Process Water Reuse Facility has operated for more than 25 years, treating about a billion gallons of agricultural industrial wastewater on 1,854 acres of farmland. The system has reached the end of its design life and capacity, prompting the upgrades.

To meet the requirements of its permit from the state Department of Ecology, the city is looking for a developer who is experienced in using agricultural industrial wastewater to generate renewable gas.

The proposed new system would feature a digestor that can handle 7.3 million gallons per day and a biogas facility that can also remove nitrogen.

Go to: pasco-wa.gov/Bids.aspx?BidID=239.


Franklin County museum breaks ground

The Franklin County Historical Society and Museum broke ground March 19 on its new annex at 305 N. Fourth Ave. in downtown Pasco.

The society said it needs additional space for exhibits, educational pro-grams and storage of material culture and archives.

The society recently acquired the archives of the Washington State Railroads Historical Society and the museum’s textile and other collections presently occupy considerable space off-site in the basement of the city’s Community Center.

The society also seeks to expand its agrarian art collection.

The 4,560-square-foot building and 15-by-70-foot storage area will be adjacent to the existing museum.


Grant County projects receive state funding

 Road improvement and community enhancement projects in south Grant County received funding in the recently passed 2022 Washington State legislative budget.

The “Miles Ahead” Transportation Package passed the Legislature included $12 million to improve Highway 243, a main transportation artery that goes through the Port of Mattawa, connecting Mattawa and Desert Aire to Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Yakima and the Tri-Cities. 

The Port of Mattawa called this project a very important freight mobility infrastructure project as well as a safety project, as the amount of freight and traffic that passes through has been increasing dramatically over the past few years. It noted a higher-than-normal number of fatalities along the highway.

The port also received $125,000 in funding to upgrade its event center used to host community events, education and training activities and business meetings throughout the year in Mattawa.


Congress reauthorizes the EB-5 Regional Center program

The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping federal spending package in March that included the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The House passed the same bill.

Now the measure will be signed by President Joe Biden and reauthorize the program through September 2027. It is the first long-term reauthorization the program has received since 2015.

It allows federally authorized “regional centers” to pool EB-5 visa applicants’ investments to exponentially fuel U.S. local and regional economies with projects that create and save jobs.

Unlike all other visa categories, federal statute requires that each EB-5 visa applicant make a significant up-front at-risk investment into a U.S. economic development project (either $800,000 or $1.05 million, depending on where the project is located), pass a two-step national security screening and create or retain at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs.

For more information, go to: iiusa.org.


Port of Warden’s new map aims to highlight its assets

The Port of Warden is promoting development with a new map detailing the port’s boundaries and highlighting its connections to interstate freeways and state highways, as well as rail, natural gas, electrical and water infrastructure.

The port’s boundaries cross Interstate 90 and Wheeler Road to the north, encompassing the U Road and I-90 freeway interchange. 

In addition, rail lines to Moses Lake, Othello, Schrag and Connell and two natural gas lines (Cascade Natural Gas and Avista) go through the port district, as well as a major Grant PUD transmission line that comes into Warden from the north. The port’s boundaries touch Potholes Reservoir, a major irrigation storage reservoir to the west of Warden.

The port touts its economic development and freight growth, including a canola crushing and canola oil refining facility, a new fertilizer distribution facility, additional fresh produce packing and frozen and dehydrated food processing, and the associated warehousing for these products.

Several food processors, cold storage warehousing companies, fresh produce packers and agribusiness companies operate in the port district: Lamb Weston, Viterra, Washington Potato Company, Skone & Connors, Jensen Farms Produce, Baker Produce, Greater Pacific Cold Storage, Country Morning Farms, CHS SunBasin Growers, BFI Native Seeds, The McGregor Company, Skone Irrigation, Pure Line Seeds, Brotherton Seed and Columbia Basin Railroad.


Koko’s Bartini closes, cites Covid-19 and inflation

Koko’s Bartini, a Kennewick martini bar and restaurant at the center of a resistance against Washington’s 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns, closed on March 25.

In a March 25 post on its Facebook page, owner Dana Slovak cited the effects of Covid-19 and inflation for the decision.

“The higher cost of everything around us has led to this final decision,” he wrote.

Slovak together with Nichon Greene opened the martini bar in February 2019 at Kennewick’s Cynergy Centre, 4309 W. 27th Place, offering a menu of 60 types of martini and a small plates menu featuring fresh ingredients.

When the pandemic hit and Washington restaurants faced the governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy order to shut down, Koko’s refused.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board issued an emergency liquor license suspension, citing repeated violations of Covid-19 guidelines.

The agency said it received 143 complaints that Koko’s was violating state rules and it confirmed the establishment was offering indoor service in violation of the rules on Dec. 30, 2020. The business settled its issues in a few weeks and the state allowed it to sell alcohol for outdoor consumption.


Bonneville Dam island added to Superfund list

Bradford Island, which is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Bonneville Dam complex, has been added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List.

The Army Corps used the Columbia River island at Cascade Locks, Oregon, as a landfill for 40 years and deposited electrical equipment in the river, resulting in toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination.

The National Priorities List is a list of sites that EPA prioritizes for cleanup due to known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

The Oregon Health Authority and the Washington State Department of Health have issued “do not eat” advisories for fish caught near the site.

Go to: bit.ly/BradfordIslandSuperfundPage.


Property tax measures on Benton ballots

Voters in Kennewick, Finley and Prosser voted on levy measures to support their respective school districts.

The Benton County Auditor mailed ballots on April 6. They must be returned or postmarked by Election Day, April 26. Return postage is prepaid.

Voters in all three districts rejected routine levy requests in February. The districts can run the levies a second time in a calendar year. A second failure in any district will force it to cut its budget.

Individuals who are not registered to vote in Washington may register up to
8 p.m. on Election Day at the new Benton County Voting Center, 2618 N. Columbia Center Blvd., or at the courthouse in Prosser, 620 Market St.

Verify ballot and voter status at votewa.gov.


Richland irrigation dam to be decommissioned

The Chiawana Richland Ranch Dam overlooking the Yakima River near the Queensgate shopping district will be decommissioned as an irrigation facility and converted into a stormwater retention pond.

The state Department of Natural Resources, which owns the dam, has determined it is unused and is pursuing plans to convert it into a stormwater pond. The 31.1-acre pond behind the dam has the capacity to hold 32 acre-feet of water.

Decommissioning will entail removing 21,500 cubic yards of material and filling nearly 22,000 more.

Work is expected to begin in the spring. The project will decommission the pond by reducing the embankment height and creating a facility with one-third of the original storage capacity. As part of the project, workers will remove a high-density polyethylene liner.

The dam is near Truman Avenue, north of the Duportail shopping district. The site is zoned for multifamily residential.


DOE updates energy rules for buildings, appliances

The U.S. Department of Energy has updated its energy rules for federal buildings and proposed new standards for consumer appliances.

DOE estimates the new codes and proposed standards could save more than $15 billion in net costs over the next 30 years and trim power demand by the equivalent of 13 million homes.

Starting in April 2023, all new buildings and major retrofits constructed by the federal government must comply with the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code and the 2019 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1.

DOE estimates the measure will save $4.2 million in operating costs within the first year.

In addition to the federal building standards, DOE is seeking comment on two proposed residential-focused rules that would tighten efficiency requirements for room air conditioners and for pool heaters. Go to: energy.gov/eere/buildings/appliance-and-equipment-standards-program.


Walla Walla, Spokane offices join Hometown Lenders

Hometown Lenders has announced that three branches have joined its family of mortgage professionals.  

It recently added three new divisions, including two in Washington, to its coast-to-coast team: a branch in Walla Walla, managed by Dustin Brown; a branch in Spokane, managed by Steven Di Lucca; and a branch in Westport, Connecticut, managed by Moshe Niv.

Hometown Lenders identifies and reviews established mortgage lenders who have earned the trust of families in their respective local communities to determine which could become new branches of Hometown Lenders. Based in Huntsville, Alabama, Hometown Lenders has more than 100 branch locations and is doing business in more than 40 states.


Bleyhl Co-op sells Pasco store to Wilco

Bleyhl Co-op has sold its Pasco store to Wilco Farm Store, a farmer-based cooperative based in Mt. Angel, Oregon.

The 20,000-square-foot store at 6705 Chapel Hill Blvd. opened in 2019. Terms were not disclosed.

Wilco said the Pasco employees would be offered jobs when the transition takes place.

“This is a well-designed store, with a trained and established team, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue what Bleyhl has started,” said Sam Bugarsky, president and CEO of Wilco.

Bleyhl will retain its stores in Grandview, Sunnyside and Zillah, and will retain its direct-to-farm focus through its other businesses.

The Pasco store will be Wilco’s eighth in Washington and its 25th overall. It operates in Oregon, Washington and California.

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