An all-day meeting on Clover Island today with city and port officials will focus on how to redevelop Kennewick's riverfront property formerly known as the Willows Trailer Court.
About 28 acres are in the area, which the port has been acquiring piecemeal for four years. The port owns 15 acres, including the Willows, and has options to buy several more retail properties and the Chieftain Apartments.
Today's public meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Clover Island Yacht Club. It's the second one this year with Gary Black, a professor of planning in the Bay Area who specializes in pattern language projects.
Pattern language refers to a process in which people say what they want a project to include and then a design follows.
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"You tell us what you'd like to see and then we'll determine what the big picture looks like," said Larry Peterson, director of planning and development for the Port of Kennewick, who is a principal participant in the meetings.
Peterson said the design approach is different from conventional "decide-design-defend" way of planning because stakeholders and property owners are involved at the start.
"There are better odds of buy-in this way," Peterson said.
The first meeting held in late August with 25 invited participants identified 32 concepts, from rooftop terraces to street cafes, areas reserved as quiet spots and intentionally designed outdoor space, and shopping streets with places for pedestrians.
Today's meeting will go through the 32 concepts, identifying what is on target and what should drop out, Peterson said.
Black, who also owns a development company called Integrated Structures Inc., will lead the session. The public can attend, but the talks will involve only the invited stakeholders.
The port hired Black to conduct the discussions, hoping to refine previous planning efforts.
The city hired consultant Tom Beckwith two years ago to lead public interest group discussions about the 350-acre riverfront area between the blue and cable bridges on both sides of Columbia Drive and south to the railroad tracks.
A similar community effort to foster concepts for riverfront development occurred in 2003 with a downtown association sponsored Urban Design Assistance Team study.
"UDAT was done at the 40,000-foot level. This is bringing everything closer to Earth," said Skip Novakovich, who was chairman of the UDAT team and is chairman of the board for the Port of Kennewick.
Marie Mosley, Kennewick city manager, said the city welcomes the opportunity to work with the port on visioning for redevelopment.
"This is part one. We still have zoning changes and design standards to do. The timing is perfect," she said, adding that the results of the Beckwith study.
Peterson said port officials asked the city not to adopt the Beckwith plan before the port had decided what it wants to do with its property along the riverfront.
"We asked that they not adopt something that was not what we needed. Rarely do you have an opportunity to write the rules to fit a project. Usually the project has to fit the rules," Peterson said.
Today's meeting will refine the pattern language to the point that a the design phase can begin, Peterson said.
Integrated Structures will work on the design, too, with a goal of having something ready for a joint meeting of the port and city council sometime next year.
"We need to start something," Novakovich said, but that will depend in large part on private investors.
Peterson noted that the port is $5 million and nearly five years into the riverfront redevelopment project. He said the city and port need to move ahead, whether the economy is ready or not.
"This may be a 20-year process, but we have to start somewhere. And when the economy turns around we will have not just a plan, but an investment opportunity that is unique," he said.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org