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They turned snow into wine in Kennewick

The Port of Kennewick is using a $910,000 insurance settlement from thes now-related collapse of a building at 211 E. Columbia Dr. to build a wine tasting room at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village.
The Port of Kennewick is using a $910,000 insurance settlement from thes now-related collapse of a building at 211 E. Columbia Dr. to build a wine tasting room at Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village. Tri-City Herald

Snow crushed a vacant Port of Kennewick building on Columbia Drive last winter.

Now, the port is using the $910,000 insurance settlement to double down on efforts to bring wineries to its Columbia Gardens Urban Wine and Artisan Village down the street from where the old building once stood.

The payout from the Cities Insurance Association of Washington will pay for a 2,500-square-foot wine tasting room at Columbia Gardens near the cable bridge.

The decision comes at the end of construction of the wine-themed project’s first phase — three buildings, finished in October.

The tenants, Bartholomew Winery and Monarcha & Palencia Wines have each moved into a building and are preparing to open in December.

They want to produce wine at Columbia Gardens and use the third building for barrel storage.

The new, smaller fourth building will most likely be a tasting room rather than production facility, said Tana Bader Inglima, the port’s deputy CEO.

In accordance with its insurance, the money is being spent on a replacement near the original footprint, just west of Columbia Gardens.

The port is in preliminary talks with a winery that expressed interest in Columbia Gardens during the initial phase of construction.

The proposed tasting room will be built near where the vacant building collapsed in early January. The weight of accumulating snow crushed the structure at 211 E. Columbia Drive.

The old building was constructed in sections, starting in the 1950s. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but its interior featured a bowed-truss roof support system.

The port had hoped to highlight the arresting feature in a future redevelopment.

Accordingly, it insured the 8,500-square-foot building for the cost of replacing it.

In accordance with its insurance, the money is being spent on a replacement near the original footprint, just west of Columbia Gardens.

The insurance money is expected to cover the cost of the new building, including construction. It will be designed to complement, but not match, the Columbia Gardens buildings.

A network of trails along the river provide public access.

The exact footprint hasn’t been settled. Bader Inglima said the port will consult with prospective tenants about the best spot for a tasting room — at the front of the property near Columbia Drive or to the rear, closer to Duffy’s Pond.

The insurance payoff provides a healthy financial boost to the project’s second phase.

The port is partnering with the city of Kennewick and Benton County to install utilities, roads and landscaping to woo future tenants to the area, including Columbia Basin College’s expected culinary center.

The port is using wine to anchor Columbia Gardens but the larger goal is to revitalize a stretch of the Columbia River waterfront and reconnect the community to the river. A network of trails along the river provide public access.

The port plans to advertise the tasting room project in the spring, with construction beginning in the fall. It is tentatively set to open in spring 2019.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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