More than one dreamer’s vision has been dashed by a municipality.
Often those grand plans whimper off into the night after rejection by a city council never to be heard of again.
But that’s not the case for a local group bent on building a public market in the Tri-Cities.
The drivers behind the proposed project had been eyeing an eyesore of a piece of land affectionately known as “The Pit” at the gateway to Richland. It was a spot long in need of a project, and the plan for our own version of a Pike Place Market quickly gained momentum from the public. But city officials never fully embraced the idea, and eventually rejected the plan in favor of an office, retail and residential development at the site, which remains vacant.
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The Tri-Cities Public Market board vowed to continue on but buzz about the market quieted and it looked like another dream had been dashed.
If Richland didn’t want them, the public market proponents thought another entity would. Enter the city of Pasco and the Port of Pasco. After being contacted by the nonprofit market board, the two entities have agreed to split the cost of a $30,000 feasibility study to evaluate two potential sites for the market.
One of the proposed locations is downtown and the other is along the often-overlooked section of the Columbia River east of the cable bridge. If you’ve visited the Port of Pasco’s office in recent years, you’ve seen the appeal of that stretch of waterfront.
Even better, the city and port are seeking the site that “will provide the best likelihood of success” for the market. Rather than battling for it and harming its chances in the process, the two are working together for the good of the community at large.
“A public market will act as an anchor for real estate development, but also more interesting, it will act as a catalyst. And that really gets into the community aspects of … engaging a space, of humanizing a space,” the Port of Pasco’s Gary Ballew recently told city council members.
And that’s just what these areas of east Pasco need. There’s a lot to like about the proposed locations for a market showcasing local wares and fares but not a lot of people regularly travel to them. Something like a public market full of food and the wares of local artisans would be just the draw needed to get folks there.
While neither location meets all the criteria for the market — parking is a challenge at one, infrastructure at the other — both pack potential to provide the market a permanent home.
We’re fans of the various port’s in our region. They have an eye to economic development while not being parochial. Ballew is already eyeing the potential synergy between a public market in Pasco and the Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village under construction less than a mile away on the Kennewick side of the river.
While the reality of market is still a dream, it has now found entities willing to invest in its potential. We applaud the market board for continuing to press forward and seek solutions, and for finding potential partners who share an appreciation for the project.