11 buyers bid more than $5 million on Wye properties

The potential transformation of the Richland Wye is a step closer to reality after a pair of land auctions yielded 11 buyers who bid more than $5 million for property left behind by the late Jerry Sleater.

Another auction for two remaining parcels in Sleater’s Wye portfolio is expected to happen in the next couple of months.

“We had really good participation (the first two days),” said auctioneer Scott Musser, chief executive officer of Musser Bros., who’s working with Derrick Stricker of Stricker CRE on the Wye auction.

“Buyers are seeing the vision,” Musser said. “For me as a longtime resident, I’ve seen a lot of changes and transformations. I think we’re about to see an abrupt transition in the Richland Wye that’s unprecedented in the Tri-Cities.”

During the first two days of auction in early March, 16 parcels sold to 11 buyers for more than $5 million total. The names of the buyers aren’t public until the sales close, Musser said.

The Journal of Business has confirmed that one of the buyers is Bruce Ratchford, founder and CEO of Apollo Mechanical Contractors. The purchase isn’t related to that business.

Ratchford’s son, Ryan, said the five parcels along Columbia Park Trail between Carolina and Dakota avenues that his father is buying are a good investment, but there are no development plans at this time. The land includes SagePort Grille and a market, which are staying put at the moment.

The two remaining Wye parcels to be sold are general business properties on either side of Fowler Street, generally bounded by Nevada and Louisiana avenues and Helena Street.

Sleater, a grocer, firefighter and fire commissioner and real estate owner, died in 2019, leaving behind property that included 18 parcels totaling 10 acres in the Richland Wye, which is an area stretching east of Columbia Center Boulevard to Highway 240 along the Yakima River Delta.

The property has a variety of zoning, including commercial limited business, general business, waterfront, medium density residential, and business and commerce.

The area seems poised for transformation, with some significant investments made or in the works in recent years, from the Port of Kennewick’s Spaulding Business Park a decade ago to the new Fable casual family restaurant in the offing from John Bookwalter, the Richland winemaker and restaurateur, in the former R.F. McDougall’s Irish Pub & Eatery.

The city of Richland also spent $5 million on upgraded streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure in the area.

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