The Richland City Council on Tuesday crept a little closer toward a partnership with Washington State University and the local wine industry to build a wine science center in north Richland.
Council members met with WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Vicky Carwein and other university and industry representatives to talk about the governance and purpose of a public development authority that would be created to build the $23 million center.
A public development authority is like a public version of a limited liability corporation. In this case, the authority would be formed by Richland, have no taxing authority, and exist solely to build the center.
Once the center is up and running, the authority and its governing board would dissolve.
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"Its goal is to get funded, get worked and go away," said Diahann Howard, the Port of Benton's economic development director. "It's born to die."
The main thrust of Tuesday's discussion was how the center might be paid for.
Carwein said the center's fundraising committee is applying for state and federal funding to pay for equipment and part of the construction, but 70 percent of the cost is expected to be paid for through private donations made through the WSU Foundation.
Of the total $23 million cost, about$12 million is needed for actual construction. Carwein was optimistic the money can be raised from private sources.
"There is an expectation there are at least a handful of seven-figure gifts out there," she said.
The council will consider the documents creating the development authority at its April 5 meeting.
Also Tuesday, the council looked at a draft sublease with the Richland Public Facilities District for a portion of the west end of Columbia Park where the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center would be built.
One of the issues under discussion is a timetable with a series of fundraising deadlines for the project designed to assure the city council that the public facilities district has the money to build and operate the center.
The first deadline would see the district awarding a contract by June for extending utilities to the Columbia Park site and building streets and parking areas, and requires the district to have 110 percent of the contract amount in cash or committed grants.
The contract award for construction of the museum is scheduled for this fall under the proposed timeline.
Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org