Park Place, Richland’s prized gateway development, has landed its first tenant.
Graze – A Place to Eat, a popular sandwich chain with locations in Kennewick, Richland and Walla Walla, will be the first retailer to move into the mixed-use complex under construction in the 600 block of George Washington Way, a spot long derided as the “pit.”
Graze expects to move its Richland location to 1,800 square feet in the retail building at 610 George Washington Way by the end of 2020, said John Lastoskie, who owns Graze with his wife, Rebecca.
It is a wonderful validation of the city of Richland’s long-held dream of using the site to anchor downtown redevelopment, said Mayor Ryan Lukson.
“That’s exactly the sort of partnership we were looking for,” he said. “Hopefully we can do a socially distant, very small ribbon cutting for them.”
The Lastoskies established Graze when they opened the original in Walla Walla in 2009.
A second Walla Walla location followed in 2012. Kennewick opened in 2014 on Gage Boulevard and Richland in 2015 on The Parkway.
Lastoskie said the high-profile Park Place offers a combination of visibility and parking it needs to woo the lunch crowd that represents 75% of its business.
They loved the spot at 735 The Parkway but found being a block away from George Washington Way and cramped parking hampered business. With the lease ending, they looked for new options.
Location and visibility were two reasons to move to the more expensive retail space. Park Place itself was the third. The mixed-use development is anchored by a 104-unit apartment building. Graze is eager to serve the residents.
“This seems like a reasonable risk,” he said.
With some irony, Lastoskie said the Covid-19 pandemic helped the current Richland location by thinning demand for parking at The Parkway. The restaurant closed for more than four weeks because of the pandemic in the spring.
It reopened to strong demand for pickup orders as Richland customers realized it was easier to park at The Parkway in a pandemic.
The couple signed the Park Place lease only 19 days before Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. All four locations endured long closures because of the pandemic. The main kitchen shut down for more than a month after a feared exposure.
Since reopening, business has returned to 90% to 95% of normal. Lastoskie hasn’t estimated the pandemic’s impact on annual revenue, but he isn’t complaining.
“We feel very lucky,” he said.
The Park Place apartment and retail complex was originally set to open in July. But construction fell more than six weeks behind schedule when the stay-home shut down most private construction.
Lastoskie expects it will take six to eight weeks of construction to complete the interior. The space includes an outdoor patio as well.
He’s hesitant to pin down an exact opening date, citing the unexpected developments of 2020.
Graze will occupy part of the more southern of the two retail pads at Park Place, said Mark Lambert, president of Crown Group, the Chicago developer that partnered with Richland-based Boost Builds to develop Park Place at Richland’s entrance.
It is one of the region’s most prominent construction projects and Richland is hanging its dreams of a vital central city core on its success.
Both retail buildings have space for lease, not surprising as the pandemic slowed all leasing activity, Lambert said. He expects interest to pick up when the complex opens, and the parking lot is ready for guests.
There is 1,560 square feet of space available next to Graze in the 610 building. Neighboring 620 George Washington Way has 3,360 square feet, which can be divided down to about 1,000 square feet.
Details are posted at ParkPlaceRetail.com
The team also is signing leases and taking deposits on rental units in the four-story elevator-served residence with underground parking and Class A amenities. Rent starts at more than $1,000 a month for studio units.
The high-profile Park Place property was a flashpoint in Richland politics for years after a failed development left the site partially excavated.
The city, which owned the property, wanted a development befitting the city’s entrance. In 2016, it reaffirmed its commitment to Crown and a version of its mixed-use vision when it rejected a popular proposal to install a public market there.
The Crown Group and Boost Builds broke ground on the $20 million development in early 2019 after they closed the deal to buy the land from the city for $836,000. The project is financed by a private loan backed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development.
Apartment rental information is posted at parkplacerichland.com.
Fowler General Construction of Richland is the general contractor. TVA Architects of Portland is the designer.
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