Developers are launching construction of a $9.5 million apartment complex in north Richland.
Crews are clearing ground for the apartments, which will be part of the Innovation Center development in the Tri-Cities Research District, said Doug Perry managing director for the development.
"You'll see lumber going up in December," he said.
Builders have broken ground on University Square -- an accompanying retail complex with space for several businesses -- and Gesa Credit Union is set to move in Jan. 1.
Developers said the projects will cater to professionals and students in the area.
Innovation Center has been at the forefront of developing the research district, which includes Washington State University Tri-Cities, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Port of Benton. As one of 11 innovation partnership zones in the state, its purpose is to bring research and development jobs to the Tri-Cities.
Developers said the area features ingredients necessary for development, which includes thousands of commuters driving daily through the area on Stevens Drive and George Washington Way.
The apartments, developers said, will be designed as "urban chic" to attract WSU Tri-Cities students and professionals working in the research district.
Perry said up to 160 apartments are planned, with 80 being built in the first phase. The remaining 80 apartments will be built after developers see demand.
The research district is an untested market, and it's not known how University Square and Innovation Center will be transformed, Perry said. However, he said people already living in the area are demanding services, and the developments can meet those needs.
"There's almost 9 acres (at University Square), so there's a possibility for a lot of different combinations," Perry said.
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