It took 10 years of meticulous planning, but a modern take on a military armory is taking shape in north Richland.
The Washington Army National Guard is building a $15 million, 40,000-square-foot readiness center at Horn Rapids Industrial Park to serve a 150-member Stryker Infantry Unit.
It will be ready by spring or summer 2022, with classrooms and conference rooms available for public use as well at 2655 First St.
“We’re looking forward to being in the area,” said Col. Adam Iwaszuk, director of the Washington Military Department’s construction and facilities management office in Olympia.
The readiness center serves a similar function to armories, but has more communal facilities than its forebearer, including a fitness center and kitchen.
A decade in making
It took a decade to bring the readiness center to the starting line. The process began in 2011 when the guard identified the need. The concept had to be shepherded through the National Guard Bureau and approved for federal and state funding.
Every year, the 54 states and U.S. territories compete for approval for projects 10 years out. Between 12 and 16 get the go ahead, Iwaszuk said.
The Richland project was approved in 2012 for a construction bid in 2020, one of 16 approved that year.
Funding is split 75%-25% between the U.S. and state governments, with $11.4 million in federal funds through the U.S. Department of Defense and $3.8 million from the Washington state capital projects budget, approved by lawmakers in 2019.
Iwaszuk said the Tri-Cities was identified a decade ago based on its growing population as well as its aging armory in Pasco. The readiness center will not replace the armory, but if the older building is retired, the new one maintains a local presence.
“It gives us a good foothold in the area,” he said.
Stryker home base
The center will serve as home base for a Stryker unit associated with the National Guard’s 81st Brigade Combat Team, whose members will travel to Richland to fulfill their commitment to drill one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
Reservists report to centers for briefings and equipment, then head out for field training. For the National Guard, that is typically the Yakima Firing Range or Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Reservists will report to Richland for deployments to local, state or federal assignments as well.
In addition to the part-time reservists, three or four full-time reservists will be posted to Richland as well.
Richland-based Fowler Construction won the design-build contract in September.
Of the 16 projects authorized in the 2020 federal budget, Richland was one of nine that met a Sept. 30 deadline to award construction bids.
It is an accomplishment to be proud of, Iwaszuk said.
“It shows that the Washington Army National Guard is very organized.”
The project was competitive in part because the National Guard bought the 40-acre site in Richland in 2017. It paid the city of Richland $1.7 million for the land at First Street and Polar Way.
“That’s why we buy land years in advance. We can compete because we own the land,” he said.
As work gets started in Richland, Iwaszuk is busy planning for new projects a decade in the future.
For 2021, Iwaszuk is putting forth a request to build a field maintenance shop at the Tumwater readiness center. Tumwater’s nearly complete 80,000-square-foot readiness center is similar to Richland’s, but larger. Adding a maintenance shop will transform it into a regional military anchor.
He also is preparing plans for a Richland-style readiness center in Ellensburg, he said.
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