A pair of developers who "fully embrace" the vision of Vista Field plan to build a five-story commercial and residential building there.
Vatik Dulo of the Camas, Washington-based Akula Group and investor Ryan Foster are negotiating to buy a 13,077-square-foot lot in the former airport that's now envisioned as a vibrant, walkable mixed-use development. A purchase and sale agreement is being hammered out.
The port owns the 103-acre Vista Field, and commissioners at a meeting in December gave the OK for port staff to work with Dulo and Foster on the deal.
"Personally, I think it’s great. (They've) worked with the port, they’ve listened to the master plan," said Skip Novakovich, port commission president, during the meeting.
Tim Arntzen, the port's chief executive officer, added that the pair "fully embrace what the port commission and our community want to do with Vista Field."
"It’s a very, very important day for us today," he said ahead of the commission's vote to enter into an exclusive 90-day negotiation period.
If the building moves ahead, it could be among the first to go in at Vista Field.
Blueberry Bridal Boutique also has submitted a letter of intent to buy a shovel-ready parcel but hasn't yet moved to the purchase and sale agreement phase as the owner works on financing.
Dulo spoke during the December meeting, outlining his and Foster's plan for the $8 million building on Vista Field's Lot 25 at Crosswind Boulevard and Azure Drive.
"It’s going to take a mixture of things to make this work," he said, noting the perimeter will include retail and the upper floors will have apartments and condos.
The retail spaces include a restaurant, a café and multiple shops. The living spaces upstairs will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and two-story condos.
Dulo and Foster will split ownership equally and plan to keep the building themselves rather than build it and then sell.
Dulo, who lived in the Tri-Cities briefly as a teenager, said he's open to the possibility of being involved in other projects at Vista Field as well.
"Our team at the Akula Group is excited to be a part of the vision that the Port of Kennewick has presented. We have greatly enjoyed working with a community that encourages growth and development," the development company said in a statement.
Vista Field for years was a municipal airport, but the port stopped airport operations in 2013 to begin the site's transformation into a regional town center with a mix of residential and commercial development. It's in a high-profile area next to the Toyota Center and Three Rivers Convention Center, near the Columbia Center mall.
A master plan was established, with input from the community, to help bring the vision to reality.
The port has invested $4.9 million in infrastructure for the first 20 acres of development, which is set to include four parcels for single-family development, seven for live-work development and 10 for mixed-use. At full build-out, Vista Field is planned to include 750,000 square feet for retail, office, service and entertainment uses, 1,100 residential units, and more.
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