The Richland City Council on Tuesday agreed to a deal that lets ConAgra Lamb Weston build a warehouse in Horn Rapids while the city gets back a piece of waterfront land to market to another developer.
The deal allows Lamb Weston to trade 8.6 acres it bought at Columbia Point for 80 acres in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park.
The frozen potato processor closed on the $1.43 million parcel at Columbia Point last year after more than three years of negotiations, and city staffers said the land at Horn Rapids would sell for about the same amount.
The agreement calls for the city to pay the building permit fees on the $35 million automated frozen food warehouse Lamb Weston plans to build there.
In exchange, the city would get back the Columbia Point land, which a representative for Lamb Weston said is worth two to three times what the company paid for it.
The council first considered the deal Nov. 15, but some members said they hadn't had enough time to read the contract and chose to delay making a decision.
The vote Tuesday in favor of the deal was unanimous.
Councilman David Rose said he initially was unsure whether the city should take the Columbia Point property back because the current economic climate might make it difficult to market.
But he ultimately decided that it would be better for Richland if the city has control over what happens to the land.
Councilman Bob Thompson said he was unsure the Columbia Point land wouldn't depreciate given uncertainties facing the Tri-City economy with Hanford layoffs and the questions involving cleanup funding at Hanford.
But he also concluded the deal probably was in Richland's best interests.
"It's about as close to a wash as we can get," Thompson said.
Jay Noddle, resident of Noddle Companies of Omaha, Neb., spoke on behalf of Lamb Weston and said the company is looking forward to building the warehouse.
"We're excited to be here," he said. "We've been doing a lot of planning in the last couple of weeks."
-- Also Tuesday, the council discussed whether the city should contribute toward the operating expenses for whatever project the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District decides to build. Consensus among council members was that the city should not use money from its general fund to subsidize a regional project.
"Philosophically, there's a tendency for people in government to like to build stuff," Thompson said. "You have to be able to pay for the stuff you build."
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org