PASCO -- After more than a decade of planning, the first building at the Port of Pasco's Osprey Pointe Business Park almost is complete.
Port officials invited public officials, the media and others for a sneak peek at the $3.9 million building Tuesday. The port plans a more formal opening in April or May.
Port commissioners have been talking about how to develop 70 acres of port property along the north shore of the Columbia River "since the turn of the last century," said Executive Director Jim Toomey.
The result is a 20,000-square-foot office building that looks firmly rooted in the 22nd century.
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The building features lots of windows, an outside patio that faces the river and accents of red brick and cobbled, stone like interior and exterior walls.
As Toomey led the tour, workers were putting finishing touches on a small, glass-walled, circular public meeting room with a 180-degree view of the river and the hills beyond.
The port will be the first tenant, tentatively planning to move its office March 22 from 904 E. Ainsworth St. into the building's second floor.
A residents committee that advised the port on the development had suggested the port be the first tenant, Toomey said.
Committee members encouraged the port to "not (just) tell people what we could build here," he said. "Let's show them."
Port offices will fill about half the second floor. The offices, like the rest of the second floor, feature light-butterscotch walls, seaweed-green carpet and dark wood trim.
The other half of the second floor mainly is public space. One large room that will serve as the commissioner's meeting space has glass doors that open to an outdoor deck that wraps around the river-facing side of the second floor.
The ground floor is unfinished and available for lease. It includes one 4,200-square-foot space and a 3,200-square-foot space.
Toomey said the port has talked to potential renters but has no firm commitments.
The building is the outgrowth of a master plan the port first developed in 1999 for 600 acres of its property along the river's north bank.
Commissioners long had recognized the unique character of the 110 acres that would become Osprey Pointe, especially the 70 acres along the river that have no levee, Toomey said.
By about 2003, the port had developed a conceptual site plan that designated the 70 acres as an attraction area that could provide public access to the waterfront.
But the port had no money to see that vision through until Feb. 10, 2008, when an accidental fire destroyed a port-owned warehouse.
As a result, the port's insurer paid the port $4.2 million to replace the building. Port commissioners then formed the residents committee to advise them on how to proceed.
In early 2009, the port hired a Tacoma-based architectural firm to design the first building and a Vancouver-based engineering consulting firm to integrate the building with the surrounding site.
In early 2010, the port awarded a $5 million bid to Richland-based Fowler Construction to build the building and do $1 million in site work, including a circular sidewalk to connect the building to the river front.
Construction started in February. Cold weather and materials delivery delays put the project three weeks behind schedule.
But it's within budget, Toomey said. "There's been excellent contract management," he said. "The engineering has been excellent."
Although the port is the first tenant, port officials hope private developers will build another 20 or so buildings to fill the 70 acres.
The port is offering developers the chance to own parcels or to lease land.
The additional 40 acres of Osprey Pointe are just north of Ainsworth and are set aside for light industrial/commercial development.
All in all, Toomey said he sees Osprey Pointe as a win-win for the port and community.
The commissioners' goals were "potential high returns for the port, greater access for the community and to raise the bar for development in that part of Pasco," he said.
Although the new building is still under construction, the public may tour it on a first-come, first-serve basis at specified times between now and March 16.
Call Vicky Keller at the port office at 547-3378 to reserve a space.