City of Richland: North end draws large commercial, housing projects
An ongoing effort to market and prime the Horn Rapids area of Richland is paying off as nonstop growth continues at the northern end of the city.
Richland is rewriting its master plan to support ongoing residential development while mapping out future commercial and retail projects in Horn Rapids.
“It would further define what’s going to happen west of Kingsgate Way and open up new roads and more projects on that side of Horn Rapids Industrial Park,” said Mandy Wallner, economic development manager for the city of Richland. “This will include establishing new commercial lots along the south side of First Street.”
One of those developments is an Oregon-based jerky company considering the purchase of 20 acres in Horn Rapids with the plan to manufacture its products on the site, bringing the potential of 200 new jobs in the process.
Old Trapper could include a warehouse, office building and manufacturing facility with the ability to expand in the next five years.
The company started in Tillamook, Oregon, and has another manufacturing facility in Forest Grove, Oregon, west of Portland. This could be Old Trapper’s second expansion. Why Richland?
“From a distribution standpoint, we’re in a corridor that’s easy to get to and from,” Wallner said. “I think they know we’re just a booming area and the economy seems to be pretty insulated here.”
Richland expects to add 168 new apartments, also in Horn Rapids, some with a commercial component and some with access to a future public park planned for the area.
“As they finish building out toward Twin Bridges Road, we’re working on an agreement to offer that next 100 acres with an expected redesign of Twin Bridges Road,” Wallner said.
Richland operates its large, vacant parcels in farm circles to generate revenue for the city to help finance bigger projects, like road construction, for the city of 62,220.
A lengthy effort to build a military readiness center finally wrapped this spring at the Horn Rapids Industrial Park with the completion of a Washington Army National Guard facility.
The $15 million project was a decade in the making due to military funding. Classrooms and conference rooms are available for public use at the center on First Street, also home to a Stryker infantry unit.
Totals down, values up
The frenetic pace of building in Richland is down slightly as the city issued about 13% fewer residential building permits for single-family homes through August compared to last year, though the value of homes is up slightly.
The numbers are similar for commercial remodels, down in total but up in value.
“Commercial construction projects are a few less than last year and the valuations are on track,” Wallner said.
This adds up to total permits being down overall, compared to last year, but with an overall value up 8% compared to 2021, putting Richland currently at 81% of its projected revenue for the year.
Orchards become lots
Land owned by the state Department of Natural Resources since Washington’s statehood, and most recently leased by an orchard, will soon be carved up and lots made available for development in a section of town called City View.
The city of Richland rezoned the parcels near Duportail Street for commercial, residential and public use by the Queensgate shopping complex at its southwest border with West Richland.
The opportunity for low-, medium- and high-density housing, as well as the potential for a school, exist on the 300-acre site.
Homes built at City View will be within walking distance to a new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen fried chicken restaurant planned for the Queensgate shopping center just west of Yakima Federal Savings & Loan Association.
The Tri-Cities’ first Popeyes opened this year in Kennewick with long lines, and another location is planned for west Pasco. Whenever a new brand comes into the area, it gets the community excited for additional growth.
“I do know that a lot of retail scouts look at the area,” Wallner said. “They can get a franchise open in multiple locations (across the three cities), and that makes it a hot market. We do our best to reach out and do what we can from a recruitment standpoint.”
The prospect of new construction on the former City Hall lot at the corner of Swift Boulevard and George Washington Way also got people excited this summer, but it wasn’t a new development.
“We just put in irrigation so the trees wouldn’t die because the city has taken the property off the market, retaining it for future municipal use,” Wallner said. “I would expect at least a portion of it to hit the market again.”
Landscaping and irrigation also are on deck at the former Economy Inn, located in the heart of town.
Richland paid $1.2 million for the hotel and its highly-visible site at 515 George Washington Way.
An inspection found asbestos, as expected, which will be remediated prior to a planned demolition by next year.
After the building is torn down, Richland expects to landscape the lot and reserve the property for future municipal use, possibly for a new fire station to replace the aging Station 71, located just up the street.
Around the corner from the Economy Inn, Portland-based Fortify Holdings is remodeling the former Days Inn at 615 Jadwin Ave., as well as the former Best Western Plus at 1515 George Washington Way, turning the hotels into micro-apartments.
Both buildings have new names. Rob Jacobs, regional manager for Fortify Holdings, said the remodels are “flying through construction.”
The Best Western Plus is now called The Franklin, and its on-site restaurant, La Bella Vita Kitchen & Bar, is open.
Jacobs said construction on the rest of the building should finish by November, with the back wing complete by early next year.
The Meriwether, formerly known as the Days Inn, is expected to be finished in the first months of 2023.
“We do not have rental pricing finalized, but these will lease out for market rate,” said Jacobs, with studios “priced similarly to other studios” in the area. The company has made no further effort to buy 50 Comstock St., the site of another nearby hotel, Riverfront Hotel, it once was interested in.
That property is near empty land visible from George Washington Way that’s set to be an apartment complex on Bradley Boulevard. Cedar and Sage Homes is behind The Bradley Apartments, expected to be built “in small pieces,” Wallner said.
The first phase includes a pair of identical buildings valued at $5.7 million.
The three-story complex would include 48 units in the initial phase. The developer’s description of the $40 million project says it will consist of 160 units, a pool and clubhouse.
Library coffee shop
After years of vacancy, partly due to Covid-19, Kozy Kup, which has a location on Keene Road, is set to reopen the coffee shop within the Richland Public Library. It will partner with Some Bagels, located in the Richland Uptown Shopping Center, to offer its food on the site as well.
No such luck for the former Albertsons on Lee Boulevard which remains vacant years after the store’s liquidation, and Wallner isn’t optimistic that will change. The building is leased through 2036 and contract restrictions prevent another grocery store from occupying the space, she said.
Bridge links city
Richland’s investment and the opening of the Duportail Bridge in late 2020 appears to have been a much-desired option for drivers.
“It’s definitely provided access to both residents and people who don’t live in Richland,” Wallner said. “It’s just a great thoroughfare for everybody to get up to Queensgate and West Richland, and it’s relieved traffic on Wellsian Way and Aaron Drive.”
New growth on Wellsian includes a Dutch Bros. with a multi-tenant building, as well as a $7.5 million storage unit project built by ABC Mini Storage that has been in the works since 2017.
“After it got a slow start, it’s been full steam ahead,” Wallner said.
The city also is prepping for the sale of a property near the Duportail Bridge by the city shops that overlook the Yakima River.