By Jamie Council
for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Leasing Park Place’s remaining retail storefront marks the completion of a longtime vision to create a vibrant mixed-use urban community between George Washington Way and Howard Amon Park in Richland.
It’s the first urban community in the area, said Jen Soto, regional property manager for Spokane-based Prodigy Property Management.
“We don’t have anything like this in the Tri-Cities,” she said. “There’s not a lot of open land here in the Tri-Cities to develop it.”
Developers broke ground on the $20 million development made up of retail suites and apartments in 2019 at 650 George Washington Way, providing easy access to the heart of Richland and its waterfront amenities.
Tulipe, a clothing and lifestyle shop, leased the last available retail unit in the development. The new store celebrates a grand opening March 17-18 at 614 George Washington Way.
Retail spaces are also filled along Park Place’s lower level, which faces Howard Amon Park.
“We’re 100% full retail now,” said Ana Villa, Park Place’s property manager. “Most of them just opened their doors. I know they are excited about the location and about seeing what’s to come.”
Fronting busy George Washington Way, Park Place sees more than 33,000 vehicles drive by the location every day.
In addition to the retail space, the development rents studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with many residents still working from home, offering the nearby shops a built-in customer base, Villa and Soto said.
The city of Richland always had a vision for this highly visible area.
“Overall our strategy is a vibrant, walkable downtown,” said Mandy Wallner, economic development manager for the city of Richland.
A few different options crossed the table for the site, including a popular proposal for a public market in 2017. However, the city decided to sell the property to Mark Lambert, president of the Chicago-based Crown Group, to develop Park Place.
“Park Place supports our long-term strategy,” Wallner said. “It’s fantastic when it comes together, especially after questions of if commercial spaces would come back. I’m glad to see the plan was successful.”
Villa has been a part of the project since construction and says filling the retail space hasn’t been a challenge, but rather finding the right retailers.
She said they sought retailers who complemented the urban living experience.
“Because our parking lot is on the smaller side, we wanted retail tenants that had office hours that flowed with the working hours of our tenants. That was the hold up of leasing them out,” Villa said.
Villa said Lambert turned down multiple prospective tenants, holding tight to the original vision for the property.
Tulipe’s neighbor, Graze – A Place to Eat, was the first tenant to sign a five-year lease.
Owned by John and Rebecca Lastoskie, Graze is a popular lunch spot that debuted in Walla Walla in 2009. It now has additional locations in Kennewick and Park Place in Richland.
The sandwich shop at 610 George Washington Way moved from the nearby Parkway retail area in May 2021.
The owners said it was a good move.
“It’s been great,” said John Lastoskie. “It has better access with parking and visibility than the Parkway location. It’s a win for customers, really.”
It’s a win for Graze as well, as it plans to open a new restaurant in Kennewick the first week of June.
It is under construction at 131 N. Ely St., the former China Cafe spot in Kennewick. It will be a drive-thru only, a different model from the other restaurants.
“We will have a walk- and pick-up window or place an order on a mobile platform,” John Lastoskie said. “When we first open, it might only be vehicles. We’re figuring it out as we go.”
Pratt Construction is the general contractor.
Lastoskie said that the success of the other locations, including at Park Place, has allowed this expansion.
“We hope we keep doing an all right job,” he laughed.
Popcorn Northwest, at 624 George Washington Way, opened its first brick and mortar last October at Park Place. It’s locally-owned by Jeramy Schultz, who has been in the kettle corn business since 2004 and got his start with vendor tents at Howard Amon. The business sells popcorn, caramel apples and other seasonal sweet treats.
Fleet Feet, a custom shoe shop, recently opened at 620 George Washington Way. The Richland franchise is owned by Spokane-based couple Julie and Wade Pannell.
“Being located right by the riverfront trails, many of our residents and community members are in need of running shoes and apparel,” Villa said. “For Popcorn Northwest, many of our apartment residents were already familiar with their vendor booth at Howard Amon.”
A Fleet Feet staffer said the store was busier than they planned, which was a good problem to have.
Of the six retail spaces along the G-Way corridor, Graze and Fleet Feet occupy double suites for their kitchen and stock room, respectively.
Tulipe, pronounced “two-leap,” is owned by two working-class women: Pasco native Kelli Kania and Sunnyside native Heather Nickolaus.
“This is a brand new shop we dreamed up about a year and a half ago, and we decided to take the plunge. The shop was inspired by my friend Heather and I to bring people back to brick and mortar shopping – creating an experience of all the senses: sight, smell, touch and communication,” Kania said.
With a whimsical and classic vibe, about 80% of the clothing is for women and 20% for men. Also on offer is decor, beauty, accessories and gift items.
“We’re experimenting,” said Kania who has been a nurse in the area for over two decades, “but we appreciate quality over quantity.” Nickolaus works in the beauty industry.
Spokane-based Prodigy Property Management oversees the day-to-day management and apartment leases, while Lambert manages the retail spaces.
“When we found this space, Mark helped us from the very beginning,” Kania said. “We had a really good fit with the space and the community. We call them our Tulipe angels.”
Park Place’s lower-level storefronts are leased by Studio Paloma, which provides permanent make-up, tanning and waxing services, and Sweet Spot Hair Salon.
Studio Paloma opened October 2022 and Sweet Spot is expected to open this summer.
“It’s nice that our residents can just take an elevator down and have access to beauty locations,” Villa said. “That was always the plan to have retail on G-Way as well as down below.”
However, the original plan was to have four retail spaces on the river-facing side of the building.
Plans quickly changed. Studio Paloma took two spaces and the property converted one space to tenant storage due to high demand from the residents.
Park Place’s urban living and community-based focus has helped attract retailers and residents.
“This community is very close,” Villa said. “We have a social community group. We market to businesses to our residents and they are super excited about who’s moving in. It’s helped us maintain a high occupancy.”
Park Place opened its doors in April 2022 and finished leasing the building by summertime, with a waiting list for about six months. Now with leases ending, they say they have a rotating door with occupancies every month that are filled.
Go to: parkplacerichland.com.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!