The Kennewick City Council pledged this week to build up to 1,000 new parking spots near the Three Rivers Convention Center complex.
In an unusual session following its scheduled workshop Monday night, the city council passed a resolution declaring support for developing new parking on city-controlled land.
The city owns about 15 acres near the coliseum and convention center and has an agreement to buy 14 acres on three parcels from the Kennewick Irrigation District.
The city will pay nearly $2.4 million for the land. The deal is part of a larger transfer under which the city will begin providing domestic water service to the Elliott Lake neighborhood.
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The parking resolution commits the city to partner with the Kennewick Public Facilities District and the Port of Kennewick to provide more parking to support both the convention complex and the proposed Vista Field redevelopment.
The resolution explicitly links the city’s parking commitment to voters approving a two-tenths of a percent sales tax increase to upgrade the convention center complex in the Aug. 2 primary election. Ballots will be mailed by mid-July.
“In the event of a majority approval of ballot proposition 16-8 for the Link Theater, Toyota Center improvements and Convention Center expansion, the city of Kennewick affirms its commitment to provide additional parking for the growing needs of this entertainment district,” it reads.
The proposed $35 million, 100,000-square-foot expansion is called The Link.
It would modernize the Three Rivers campus with a 2,300-seat Broadway-style theater, a 50,000-square-foot convention center addition and a 30,000-square-foot new lobby that would reorient Toyota Center to face Vista Field.
The proposal needs a simple majority to pass. It would add two cents of sales tax to a $10 purchase, raising an estimated $3.5 million per year. The council previously supported the Kennewick Public Facilities District’s move to submit the plan to voters.
Council members said even without the expansion, parking is a longstanding issue at Three Rivers — it’s frequently in short supply when the convention center and Toyota Center hold events at the same time. Attendees are forced to use parking lots of nearby businesses.
Mayor Steve Young said the problem has become worse in the year since the 116-room SpringHill Suites hotel opened adjacent to the convention facility. On behalf of the city, he apologized to visitors forced to park off-site.
“We recognize it has been a problem. Sometimes, the huge problems take time to solve.”
The resolution passed unanimously, with four of the seven council members present. Council members John Trumbo, Greg Jones and Bob Parks were excused.