RICHLAND — Owners of an almost $19 million apartment complex under construction in Richland are confident they will be able to fill their 180 units.
Crews began moving dirt this week at the future site of the River Trails Apartments, 2513 Duportail St.
The Tri-Cities is a time-proven apartment market, said Don Purdy of West Richland, who has partnered with Stephen MacKay from Western Washington on the project.
This is the fourth apartment complex to break ground recently in Richland, after what officials describe as a several-year lull in apartment construction.
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River Trail, which will include eight three-story apartment buildings, will be the largest completed in a single phase.
Regency Park, under construction on Queensgate Drive, will have 228 units completed in two phases.
The Canyon Crest Apartments with 30 units is going up in south Richland on a small parcel of land on Steptoe Street.
And the 228-unit Island View Apartments on Columbia Park Trail started to rent apartments this summer as the first half of the project was completed.
Several other smaller projects have site plans approved but have not received building permits, said Rick Simon, Richland development services manager.
Construction of the new River Trails complex will create jobs, and the project also will bring in sales and property taxes, he said.
The good news for consumers is the new units should help ease the high occupancy rates in the Tri-Cities, Simon said.
Last month in Kennewick and Pasco, 97 percent of apartments were occupied, while in Richland, there was 95 percent occupancy, according to a survey completed by Kennewick's Crown Property Management.
This isn't Purdy and MacKay's first apartment project. They also were involved with Kennewick's Center Pointe Apartments, but that was sold several years ago.
Purdy said they did three market studies before deciding on the new project.
The five-year market forecast for the area is "phenomenal," he said, adding that the economy is robust and isn't all Hanford-dependent.
The complex, with one-, two- and three-bedroom units, is on the north side of the Yakima River near where Richland plans to build the Duportail Street bridge.
It will share a private access road with the Shoreline Village Apartments, but eventually will be connected to Duportail, Simon said.
Purdy said part of their location choice and design was to encourage healthy living.
The complex is next to the Tapteal Greenway natural area and a paved bicycle trail, and there are about 20 miles of trails in the area that can be reached by bicycle, he said.
There also will be a 1,000-square-foot gym, a 1,200-square-foot pool, playground, a kiddie pool and Jacuzzi. The one-story clubhouse will have a kitchen, coffee bar with wireless internet and a media room.
The apartment buildings will have flat roofs and large covered balconies with wooden decks, he said. All but 36 apartments will have a view of the Yakima River.
The units also will have energy-efficient forced air heating and cooling systems, and energy-efficient appliances, he said.
Purdy said they haven't set the rental rates yet for the units.
Crown Property Management's survey showed Richland's rents in September averaged from $629 for studio apartments to $822 for four-bedroom apartments.
River Trail's garden-style apartment complex will have a terraced effect for the apartment units created by their location on a sloping hill, said Tom Gerding, president and owner of Gerding Builders of Corvallis, Ore., the contractor.
Purdy expects the first 50 apartments and the clubhouse will be done in June. The entire project is expected to be finished next fall, Gerding said.