Kennewick's investment in Southridge area pays off

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJune 6, 2014 

Bond revitalizing

Officials are starting to see the return on their investment after a bond was established to revitalize part of Kennewick as the revenue from local businesses in that area is providing more revenue than the city needs to make the yearly payments.

MATT GADE — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Kennewick's investment in new roads and utilities in the Southridge area has paid off, only four years after the city took the gamble and approved a $13.7 million bond.

Trios Health's new Southridge hospital is opening in the next month and a new medical office building is not far behind.

New homes have been built and new businesses have opened, including Wine & More, Z Place Salon & Spa, Canyon Chiropractic & Massage Therapy and Bob's Burgers & Brew.

Copper Ridge Apartments, with 228 units, and Affinity at Southridge, a 154-unit independent senior living facility, also opened in the last few years.

"This reflects how well the city is doing when it comes to growth," said Mayor Steve Young.

The new tax revenue that Kennewick will receive from development in Southridge this year is enough to completely pay the city's portion of the bond debt from the infrastructure projects, said Dan Legard, the city's finance manager.

The city's property tax base has grown by $56.7 million from development in Southridge, bringing in $173,000 in new sales taxes and $35,000 in new property taxes last year, Legard said.

The state is also seeing a return, receiving $1.3 million in new sales and use taxes last year alone to offset the $1.5 million it has invested so far, Legard said.

Eleven new businesses opened in the revitalization area between 2010 and 2013, Legard said. That meant 94 new jobs last year, representing about $3.4 million in wages, Legard said.

New businesses in Southridge have been opening slower than Young hoped, he said. But banks continue to be slow in loaning money for new businesses, making it hard to open or expand.

Young expects to see more businesses show an interest in Southridge because it's the newest and fastest-growing part of Kennewick, he said. It's situated between the rest of the city and the area where officials hope to attract industrial development.

Carl Adrian, Tri-City Development Council's president and CEO, said Trios will be an anchor for more development in that area.

Southridge is near homes and an established service and retail area and is growing, all attractive to businesses looking at where to locate, Adrian said. Consultants have been evaluating Southridge for more hotel rooms and for retail opportunities.

An 80-room, $5.6 million Hampton Inn Hotel is planned for Plaza Way, said Evelyn Lusignan, Kennewick's customer service manager. And the final approval for the next 39-home phase of the Sagecrest subdivision south of Southridge High School is in the works.

The city was able to use the state local revitalization financing program to issue a bond to pay for work on Southridge and Hildebrand boulevards, Plaza Way and Ridgeline Drive and finish the second phase of the Southridge Sports & Events Complex.

The Port of Kennewick, Benton County and the Kennewick Public Hospital District also made the project possible by helping pay the bond debt using some of new tax revenues they are receiving from development in Southridge, Legard said.

Kennewick also invested another $6.7 million in the Southridge revitalization area using other funding, mostly on water and sewer infrastructure.

The Southridge revitalization area includes a good-size chunk of the city south of 27th Avenue, west of Highway 395 and north of Interstate 82. It also includes some of the land east of Highway 395.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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