Building seven new schools is helping the Tri-Cities outpace last year's commercial construction.
The Tri-Cities already has surpassed the total value of commercial construction for all of last year.
Kennewick, Pasco and Richland have given the go-ahead to start construction on about $287 million worth of commercial projects through August.
That's more than twice what the cities saw at the same time last year. And Kennewick, Pasco and Richland issued permit for commercial projects worth $155.5 million in all of last year.
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The Richland School District has three schools under construction -- Lewis & Clark and Sacajawea and an unnamed elementary schools. Kennewick is building a new Eastgate Elementary School. Pasco is working on Marie Curie and Barbara McClintock STEM elementary schools.
The new building for Delta High School also is under construction in Pasco, although all three districts cooperatively operate the STEM high school.Altogether, school projects are estimated to be worth $85.8 million.
The school districts aren't the only local governments with large projects. The Port of Pasco also kicked off its remodel of the Tri-Cities Airport terminal in Pasco this summer. The building permit estimated the project to cost $9.7 million.
And the Kennewick Public Hospital District's $24 million medical office and outpatient services building is under construction next to the new Trios Health hospital in the Southridge area.
But public projects alone aren't responsible for all the increased commercial construction the Tri-Cities has seen this year.
Together, the cities have more than 200 new commercial projects, worth $251.8 million. Commercial construction includes schools, multi-family projects and industrial buildings.
Some of Pasco's commercial construction this year includes Gesa Credit Union's new $1.5 million administration and data processing building, Kenyon Zero Storage's $10.8 million cold storage facility, a $2.8 million Tiegs vegetable warehouse and the $3.6 million My Place hotel near Road 68.
Kennewick's new projects include a $1.7 million building for Great Floors and a $1.5 million for Windsor Plywood.
Under construction in Richland is what will become North America's largest public refrigerated warehouse -- a $69.1 million, 455,000-square-foot building. It will be owned by investors, but managed and operated by Preferred Freezer Services and Chill Build, an Indianapolis company partnering with Preferred Freezer Services, based in New Jersey.
A $2.1 million Marshalls department store also is under construction next to Petco, Famous Footwear and Target on Queensgate Drive in Richland.Current Tri-City businesses also are updating and expanding their buildings. The Tri-Cities have nearly 400 remodel projects so far this year, worth about $35.2 million.
Kennewick's Lithia car dealership, at 7171 W. Canal Drive, also is remodeling its showroom and expanding its service buildings in a $1.7 million project.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is working on a $1.8 million project to add a new roof and improve the ventilation system of its Physical Sciences Laboratory at 908 Battelle Blvd., in Richland.
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-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; email@example.com