Richland took a step toward possibly building a smaller-scale Pike Place Market at its Tuesday city council meeting.
The vote commits the Chicago-based Crown Group to building something at 650 George Washington Way, which now has the closed CREHST museum and an unsightly hole where a community center once stood.
The city lists the first option for the 2.7-acre property as a traditional retail area with office space available for &yet, a software company founded by Adam Brault, who has tried for years to build a project at the site to help the city revitalize the area.
But “Option B” is what many would like to see.
The vote sets in motion a feasibility study that Brault hopes will show that Richland can support a public market similar to the Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee, a smaller version of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Brault calls that his first choice for a project at the site.
“This, to some degree, authorizes a cooperation between our group and the city and city staff to see what it would take to make a public market feasible in that location,” Brault said.
The agreement calls for the Crown Group, which Brault has worked with on the project since May 2014, to pay $502,214 to the city for the property.
The developers received a $300,000 credit toward the initial price of $802,214 to cover the demolition of the museum, as well as grading the site, improving to the greenbelt trail and putting in a public plaza area.
City officials have wanted a “game changing” facility to go in the area, which is considered a gateway to the center city.
They have avoided selling the land to gas stations and other businesses they consider less attractive.
A 25,000-square-foot market would feature year-round climate controlled indoor businesses, as well as seasonal outdoor merchants. Upstairs space would go to &yet and other companies it leases to.
Plans call for the market to have local restaurants on the first floor. Other businesses could include a coffee shop, bakery, florist, beer growler fill station and a butcher.
Fruits, vegetables, wine, spice and tea also would be sold.
Crown Group President Mark Lambert has family in the area and is in the process himself of moving to the Tri-Cities.
Councilwoman Sandra Kent was among those hoping the public market option will work out.
“If nothing else, hopefully we can get something cool to cover up the big hole,” she said.
The contract includes provisions allowing the city to take back the property in case nothing is built at the site.
Also Tuesday, the council:
• Approved up to $50,000 in reimbursements for the city’s Facade Improvement Grant program. One grant is for the existing Handworks at 706 George Washington Way. The other would go toward a new project in the Parkway at 707 George Washington Way.
The owners of Solar Spirits Distillery in Horn Rapids Industrial Park plan to demolish a building in the Parkway that has been vacant since at least 1994, according to city documents. A new multi-tenant building would go in and include a bar, restaurant and distillery.
• Accepted an annexation request from Edith Whitfield, owner of a 26-acre cherry orchard south of Shockley Road and north of the Kennewick Irrigation District canal. The move is an early step in annexing the property into Richland.