Old building collapses in downtown Kennewick

The building on East Columbia Drive that collapsed under the weight of too much snow Wednesday morning didn’t look like much from the outside.

But the interior featured a striking bowed-truss roof support system that the Port of Kennewick hoped to highlight in a future development.

“It had interesting architecture inside. But old architecture doesn’t always hold up to an unusual winter,” said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s deputy CEO.

The port owns the property and hoped to renovate the building at 211 E. Columbia Drive as part of its Columbia Gardens project. The collapsed building anchors the west end, opposite of where the port recently began construction on a wine village.

The port said trouble began brewing last week when the roof began sagging as the snow accumulated. It hired structural engineers but the building collapsed before they could inspect it.

The port moved quickly to secure the site, installing security fencing and arranging for the rest of the building to be demolished Wednesday.

Concerned by reports that the building may have been used by transients, Kennewick police and fire officials searched the rubble and found no evidence anyone was inside when the roof fell about 7 a.m.

Bader Inglima said there was no history of transients in the building. It had been used in the past as a warehouse and as a support center for a vending business. The final tenant was Luster Glaze, an auto detailing supply company that moved to the Oak Street Industrial Park several years ago.

The building had no power or water service and was secured against trespassers.

The 8,500-square-foot structure was built in two sections. The section that collapsed was nearest East Columbia Drive and was built in the 1950s. The back section was constructed in the 1970s and survived the collapse.

Bader Inglima said the timbers that formed the bow trusses probably can’t be salvaged.

“They’re splinters now. It twisted pretty good.”

Though the port hoped to redevelop the building, officials are taking a positive view of the collapse.

“It’s an opportunity to clear that site and make it ready for redevelopment,” Bader Inglima said. The property is insured. The amount of the loss was not available.

Columbia Gardens is being developed to spark new development between Columbia Drive and the river. The wine village will link visitors to Duffy’s Pond and the Columbia River, just a levee away.

Columbia Basin College also hopes to build a culinary center in that area.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell