RICHLAND — Central Richland could look much different in a decade or two if city officials realize their vision for redevelopment of the downtown business district.
One of the biggest changes could be to move city hall from its current home on George Washington Way to Swift Boulevard.
The city is in the process of hiring a consultant to study such a move and come up with some options for what it could look like several years down the road -- a vision that includes a civic campus, expansion of Kadlec Regional Medical Center and surrounding medical offices, as well as urban-style development that mixes housing, retail and offices within walking distance.
"We see it all developed in a pedestrian-friendly environment that connects all of those land uses to Howard Amon Park and the river," said Joe Schiessl, the city's planning and community development manager.
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One hope is to bring multi-family residential units to the downtown area, which currently has little residential development.
"We see that as an unserved market," Schiessl said.
Mayor John Fox said the plan also could see the existing city hall and fire station on George Washington Way make way for commercial development, and the extension of Swift toward the river.
A new city hall could be built on a parking lot owned by the federal government that Fox said is underused -- but that depends on the alternatives recommended by the consultant and negotiations with the General Service Administration for the parking lot land.
Richland officials in recent years have said there are too many parking lots in the downtown area, and they would like to see some of those redeveloped into homes, shops and offices.
One goal for a new city hall would be to consolidate city departments currently scattered between the old city hall and a building on Mansfield Street Fox said.
That civic complex also could include the fire department, making way for Station 71 on George Washington Way to be torn down and Swift extended, he said.
But all of that is lofty thinking and won't be translated into bricks and mortar any time soon.
"We're just embarking on it," Fox said.