After years of sitting vacant, the old Kmart building on West Court Street in Pasco could become home to a new Goodwill store -- if the nonprofit can overcome a zoning hurdle that doesn't allow second-hand stores.
The Pasco City Council at its meeting Monday discussed the possibility of amending the city's zoning code to allow second-hand stores, such as Goodwill's donation-based thrift stores, in certain types of zoning.
Right now, second-hand stores are prohibited in zones designated for offices, business parks, C1 and C2 commercial zones and commercial regional zones.
The old K-Mart is in one of the city's few commercial regional zones, and Gordon Comfort, executive director of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia, told the council Monday that he had hoped a change allowing thrift stores by special permit in C1 zones also would carry over to commercial regional zones.
But City Manager Gary Crutchfield explained that because thrift stores are allowed only by special permit, what happens in a C1 zone doesn't apply to other zone types.
The city's planning commission considered allowing thrift stores by special permit in more types of zones, but the recommendation sent to the council didn't include commercial regional zones on that list.
Some council members said they're reluctant to go against the planning commission recommendation, not because they dislike the idea of a Goodwill store in the old K-Mart, but because they couldn't be sure other types of thrift stores would be good additions to the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said the city has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in that area and the city should ensure any development that goes in is worthwhile and will add to the tax base.
Comfort responded that Goodwill would expect $3 million to $4 million in sales per year and would benefit the area.
"There is probably a misunderstanding of who the Goodwill customers are," Comfort said. "The median household income of shoppers is $50,000 per year."
He said that since the Kennewick Goodwill moved into the strip mall with Safeway and Big Lots on Kennewick Avenue, the landlord for that store has told Goodwill officials that sales have gone up at neighboring stores.
Mayor Matt Watkins said he'd like to have more information about the planning commission's discussions before making a decision.
The council is expected to discuss the zoning code amendments again at its meeting next week.
-- Michelle Dupler: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org