Entrepreneurs have vision for Richland

Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldMarch 8, 2014 

650 George Washington Way

Two young tech entrepreneurs in Richland are plugging away on development plans for about 2 acres of city-owned property at 650 George Washington Way near Lee Boulevard.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Two young tech entrepreneurs in Richland are plugging away on development plans for about 2 acres of city-owned property off George Washington Way near Lee Boulevard, at the gateway to the city's central business district.

Paul Carlisle and Adam Brault envision Spectrum Park as "an urban, multistory, mixed-use and state-of-the art technology, business and retail space" that's a hub for the tech industry, an incubator for tech and creative businesses and a catalyst for revitalization in that part of Richland.

"That was the idea with this -- how do we create that spark?" Carlisle said, adding the hope is to build "something bigger than ourselves."

Carlisle is the founder of Elevate, an IT and web support company. Brault is founder of the software development firm &yet. Both men grew up in the Tri-Cities.

Their plans include a building that's a minimum of 30,000 square feet, with room for their growing companies and perhaps others, plus retail including a coffee shop and restaurants, Carlisle said.

Carlisle and Brault have been working for several years on the project. The city in 2011 sought interest from developers and businesses in the site, which today is vacant and includes a sizable hole. Carlisle and Brault were among those who responded, and city officials embraced their vision.

Bill King, deputy city manager, said a strong central business district is important.

"I think it's something the community has told us they want -- they want to have more urban shops and cafes and mixed-use kind of experience," he said.

Since the land off George Washington Way is owned by the city, the feeling is that it could lead the way for redevelopment, King added.

He noted the city has had the property for years and could already have seen it developed, but has sought the right use that fits with the vision for the area. The city is working with Carlisle and Brault, though it will have to entertain other options for the site if their plan doesn't come together in the near future, he said.

The entrepreneurs said they're in talks with investors and are optimistic about the project.

"We're enthusiastic about the likelihood of being able to move forward in the very near future," Brault said.

The city also owns the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology museum building to the east of the 2 acres.

If the CREHST site isn't immediately used as part of the larger redevelopment project, the city might use the museum building for office space, or -- if it's determined the city doesn't need it -- look at other uses, such as renting it out, King said.

CREHST closed its doors at the end of January, ahead of the opening this summer of the long-planned Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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