A planned waterfront wine-inspired development on Columbia Drive is drawing a lot of interest from entrepreneurs who want to open tasting rooms or restaurants.
But port and city of Kennewick officials are really looking for small wineries who will produce wine to come to Columbia Gardens, about six acres of port-owned land in the middle of Columbia Drive that used to be the home of Beaver Furniture and the dilapidated Chieftain Apartments.
The port and city have received several letters of interest from businesses, and many more verbal inquiries, Tim Arntzen, the port's executive director, told city councilmen and port commissioners during a Tuesday joint meeting.
Among those interested businesses is Franklin County's Claar Cellars, he said.
The goal is to attract wineries that will want to produce wine and use the city's effluent treatment plant, because the system to pretreat winery wastewater before it enters the city's system is key to the overall project, Arntzen said. It's part of what sets it apart.
"It's not just about wine," said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. "It's not just about food. It's about a place for families."
The broader vision for Columbia Drive includes shops, restaurants and open space, Arntzen said. Officials hope to create a place people can visit without having to buy anything or be a wine drinker.
"This is a big risk," Arntzen said. "The city is putting in $1.3 million and we are putting in more than $1.3 million."
The port and city have been working together to jump-start the revitalization of north Columbia Drive between the cable bridge and the causeway to Clover Island.
The port owns three contiguous parcels along Columbia Drive, including the Willows, a 6.7-acre property, Columbia Gardens and 3.2 acres just west of the cable bridge that used to be Cable Green's Mini Golf.
With Columbia Gardens, the port plans to build three 3,500- to 4,000-square-foot buildings for wineries. That and site work is estimated to cost $1.8 million.
Two of the three winery buildings will look connected, since the metal roofs will be joined. But the street within Columbia Gardens will actually go between the two buildings. Both pedestrians and vehicles will use the street.
The buildings will be across Columbia Drive from Zip's restaurant, he said.
The design for the effluent treatment plant is in the works, said Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley. It will be built inside a building on the former mini golf property.
Officials are working toward having the first phase of Columbia Gardens ready for crush 2015.
The city and port are working on what the street area for Columbia Drive will look like, Mosley said. The idea is a meandering path with landscaping on both sides and decorative street lights.
The city has received approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to finish the trail around Duffy's Pond, Mosley said. The design of a permeable path is being reviewed by the Department of Ecology and the city is looking to see if a stormwater loan could pay for the project.
People should be able to leave the Sacagawea Heritage Trail and enjoy the Columbia Drive area, she said.
Port Commissioner Tom Moak said he thinks there will be a competitive advantage to wineries along the river who will be able to attract visitors who may prefer to experience an urban wine setting rather than travel out to individual wineries.
With the interest the project is getting, Arntzen said they are already thinking about a second phase, which could include a fourth building and a parking lot.
Done correctly, Columbia Drive will create a vibrant waterfront district that adds jobs and boosts the local economy, said port commission President Don Barnes.
But one of the primary objectives for Columbia Drive has been to help revitalize the area, Arntzen said.
It's an area of Kennewick that has been neglected for too long, said Kennewick Mayor Pro Tem Don Britain. The partnership by the port and city will help elevate this area of Kennewick in a planned, phased manner.
This is the first step for Kennewick to rebuild its waterfront, said Kennewick City Councilman Paul Parish.
"We have to start some place and this is an excellent start," he said.
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org