A strip mall and two vacant "big box" stores on Pasco's Court Street could become a vibrant Latin American marketplace.
That's what Bellevue entrepreneur Alex Kim hopes to create with The Plaza International, a project that includes renovating the former Kmart, Dollar Store and Riverview Plaza strip mall.
The first part of the project, Mercado Pasco, is expected to open this fall, said Todd Lawson of Seattle-based Todd Lawson Architecture + Design, the architect for the project.
Mercado means "market," and that's exactly what Lawson said the former Dollar Store at 3315 W. Court St. may become. The Dollar Store closed in 2010.
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The 42,000-square-foot building will have space for 14 shops with exterior storefronts, and room for up to 50 booths inside, kind of a "Pike Place Market meets swap meet," he said.
The city of Pasco has issued building permits for renovations at 3315 W. Court St., worth about $244,000 so far this year, according to city records.
Lawson said businesses have begun to lease space and booths. Renovation on the shop spaces will be completed once there are tenants for the space.
"We want it to be kind of the best of both worlds," he said.
The idea is to create a modern Mexican mall with a traditional flare, a bilingual, bi-cultural place fun for Hispanics and non-Hispanics.
The design includes a lot of bright stucco, with each storefront in its own color, Lawson said. The inside will feature an exposed, industrial market feel because the remodel involved taking out the old drop ceiling, which leaves the wood trusses exposed, he said.
Eventually, a second floor, or mezzanine, could be added to Mercado Pasco, opening up about 30,000 square feet of office and shop space, Lawson said. Like an atrium, customers would be able to see the first floor while walking on the second level.
The former Kmart store, which closed in 2003, has been the site of two previous attempts to create indoor flea markets. Both were short-lived, and the Kmart at 3521 Court St. has been vacant for about five years, said David McDonald, Pasco city planner.
In addition to Mercado Pasco, Reunion Event Space, a big banquet hall for parties, conventions or quinceaeras, will open in part of the former Kmart building Sept. 9, Lawson said. The hope is that space will help draw people to the mall.
Lawson said Mercado Pasco is expected to open Oct. 1, with a grand opening a month later.
The former strip mall has ready-to-rent spaces for businesses, Lawson said. The strip mall stayed mostly the same.
Plans include creating a park in the Kmart parking lot that will feature a 40-foot clock tower made from an old shipping container, Lawson said. The lighted tower should be visible from the blue bridge. Trees and a fountain also are planned. The park will hopefully be finished by Nov. 1, he said.
Lawson said his client hopes to find a larger tenant for the former Kmart building, as well as adding some individual shops.
Kiosks made out of recycled shipping containers are planned in the Kmart parking lot, he said.
Lawson said his client felt the location was great, both adjacent to the freeway and with Court Street providing a route between downtown Pasco and Road 68.
"It will be like nothing else in the Tri-Cities," he said.
Interested in renting a space in the project? Call 509-480-1011.