Now that the city of Richland has moved into its new City Hall, what’s going on with the property across the street where the old city complex is?
city is clearing out and demolishing its former City Hall at 505 Swift Blvd.
and 975 George Washington Way.
site is expected to be fully cleared by November and will be nearly
shovel-ready, with some old growth trees and parking lots remaining for use
while the property is for sale.
city is selling up to 2.8 acres for the “right project.” The city has not
provided an asking price for the lot.
We asked Mandy Wallner, marketing specialist for Richland’s economic development department, about the city’s plans to sell the property at what it considers to be a high-profile corner within the central business district.
What is for sale?
are two parcels that can be divided up. A 505 Swift Blvd. address (about 1.5
acres) and there’s 975 George Washington Way (about 1.3 acres).
George Washington Way lot was intended to be the future fire station, but if it
was the right project and someone wanted the whole space, we could sell up to
the full 2.8 acres. We’re marketing it as a whole site, but it could be split
with two buyers or two projects or one project. It can front either street. The
traffic counts for the lot average about 55,000 daily trips between George
Washington Way, Swift Boulevard and Jadwin Avenue.
Why did Richland relocate its City
Hall instead of rebuilding on the corner?
current building wasn’t intended to be multi-level besides the basement and the
first floor. So for us to go up, we would have had to remediate the building
and start over. To be able to leave that building open during construction, it
was better to build on a different site. Additionally, we knew that it is a
highly-marketable site and it made more sense for us to be here (625 Swift
Blvd.) since there was so much parking here, so there wasn’t a gap in service.
Since we are a full-service utility, it was important to us to be able to have
How is it being marketed?
started soft marketing while we were building the new City Hall and knew we
were at least 18 months out. We took it to some conferences. We went to the
International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Vegas and marketed the
property to developers there nationally. We’ve done more grassroots marketing
as far as meeting with real estate agents one-on-one, taking any developer interests
and building that relationship to market the property and get the right use. We
have a pretty solid idea of what they (city council) want to see there, so
that’s why it’s been approached that way, having those conversations.
What is the idea or vision for the
hard to describe as far as, “this is the project we want.” But it definitely is
going to be a mixed-use development. It’s going to contribute to the vibrancy
and walkability of downtown. The city council has a clear vision about wanting
to energize the core of the city to make that a walkable, vibrant, energized
core. That’s, in part, where the Park Place development (650 George Washington
Way) comes in, bringing more residents downtown. We also have the 1100 and 1200
Jadwin projects that are in the process so that will bring residents downtown
also. By adding those residents down here, that changes the look, feel and
energy, and we want to be sure to complement that with multi-use buildings and
facilities. Additionally, central business district is how it’s zoned, so
there’s some restrictions there. But also has a lot of benefits that aren’t
available in other places in the city.
Has there been interest so far?
did do an RFQ (request for quotation) on the property and it didn’t really
render the responses we were looking for. So that’s probably when we started
the actual marketing push, if there was an official start date. We’ve had
people look at groceries there, we’ve had people look at residential there. In
the central business district, you can build up, with 110 feet as the limit.
The Federal Building is a good gauge for how tall that is, which allows for
about six stories. We definitely want to see some taller buildings in the
downtown so that’s a desirable use, but it doesn’t have to be.
Why did the city turn down a proposal
for a performing arts center there?
committee reviewed the project and decided that wasn’t what they wanted to see
there. In part because there’s historical proof that performing arts centers
typically aren’t programmed during the day. They offer mostly weekend or
evening activity, so it would need to be combined with some other kind of a use
to energize that all the time. We’re looking for kind of a 24-hour energy there
that is retail, commercial, could be office space, it could be restaurants, it
could be all kinds of things. Unfortunately, I think the message ended up that
Richland doesn’t want a performing arts center, which I don’t think is the
message we’re sending, it’s just not the right space.
What is the current status of the
effort to sell the lot?
had a lot of interest in whether we’re going to do another RFP (request for
proposal). That is forthcoming but we’re not sure when that will happen. We do
maintain a list of people we will notify when that comes, and people can always
sign up to be notified or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the
list or ask questions. As long as we don’t have an open RFP, we can direct
negotiate with someone at any time. During an RFP process, we still have to
honor that process. But we could always close it and direct negotiate, and
that’s up to council. But typically, we try to follow those guidelines. Outside
of that we are free to entertain any offer at any time. It just needs to come
in with something formal like a rendering and letter of interest.
Why hasn’t Richland shared an asking
price for the property?
have an appraisal, so we know what the land is worth. For the right project,
that’s somewhat flexible. That’s the benefit we have to owning our land. We
haven’t really wanted to say it’s this much money, because if there’s the right
project, and it’s a highly-desired use, there may be some flexibility in that.
But we’d like to stay close to the appraised value. Since this has George Washington
Way, Swift Boulevard and Jadwin Avenue access, and those are our three busiest
streets in Richland, that tends to make it a highly-marketable area for all
kinds of things. It’s a really exciting time for us, making sure there’s
appropriate access and appropriate use. There has been interest, but just not
the right project so far.
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