Finally, a plan for west Pasco. Here’s why it won’t be just another Road 68

The city of Pasco is working on plans for more than 1,600 acres west of Broadmoor Boulevard. The mixed use development plan currently includes more than 8,000 homes, commercial zoning, retail areas and space for parks.
The city of Pasco is working on plans for more than 1,600 acres west of Broadmoor Boulevard. The mixed use development plan currently includes more than 8,000 homes, commercial zoning, retail areas and space for parks. Tri-City Herald file

The windswept dunes west of Broadmoor Boulevard may soon be replaced with a community of up to 8,300 homes and a collection of coffee shops, stores and hotels.

But if you’re picturing another piecemeal plan like Road 68, Pasco officials promise the Road 100 development will be different.

The three main land owners are supporting, even encouraging, city efforts to ensure the prime waterfront area develops in a thoughtful fashion, with homes, condominiums, offices, stores and walking trails to connect them all.

The city is working with a consultant on a vision that would lead to development of the 1,600-plus acres bordered by Broadmoor Boulevard, the Columbia River, Burns Road and Interstate 182.

David Wilson is one of the landowners, and he’s eager to see progress. He manages about 400 acres in the area on behalf of his family, including seven siblings.

“If you look at a map of the Tri-Cities, the center is right at west Pasco, where the gravel pit is,” Wilson said. “(Growth) will naturally come that way.”

2ND broadmoor Capture
The City of Pasco envisions a mixed-use development that would bring more than 5,000 homes as well as commercial space, parks and walking trails to the 1,600-plus acres west of Broadmoor Boulevard, along the Columbia River. City of Pasco

He inked a development deal with Pahlisch Homes after visiting the Bend, Ore.-based developer and seeing its past and present projects. Wilson hopes to create a financial legacy for himself and his siblings.

The key to unlocking the land’s potential as a new urban village is for the city to extend sewer service to the area.

The timeline is up to the city. Pasco is putting the wraps on an environmental review process that lays out how the area will develop and opens the way for an ambitious extension of the city’s sewage system.

Rick White, the city’s community developer, expects the $4 million sewer line extension will begin this year.

“We’d like to go sooner,” Wilson said.

Pasco views the Broadmoor area much the way the Port of Kennewick views Vista Field, the 103-acre former airfield it hopes to convert into a mixed-use village that blends dense residential development with commercial and public amenities.

Both view their sites as central locations that deserve something more than a series of subdivisions feeding into a heavily-trafficked retail corridors.

The primary difference is Pasco is working with private property owners while the Kennewick port owns its development site, giving it complete control over future uses.

If approved, Broadmoor will be zoned to allow condominiums, single family homes on smaller lots, affordable housing, offices and retail.

White notes growth is inevitable. Pasco was Washington’s fastest growing city in 2016, according to figures released last year by the U.S. Census Bureau.

A ‘bulls-eye’ location

Wilson said the area’s appeal was clear to his parents when they homesteaded western Pasco in 1947. The elder Wilsons sold their first farm, but bought up other homesteads they thought would appeal to builders as Pasco expanded west.

David Hansen, a Seattle architect preparing the environmental impact statement for the sewer line and the general area, used similar language when he told Pasco city leaders Broadmoor is a “bulls-eye” location.

It could easily attract a corporate campus, he said during a recent update to the city council. With its sloping sunset views over the Columbia River, Broadmoor sells itself.

“Everyone wants a view,” he said.

He encouraged Pasco to shed the idea that land is easy to come by. Road 68 development brought welcome commerce to Pasco, but he said it could have been denser.

“We need to start planning like land is a premium,” he counseled the council. “Eighteen hundred acres seems like an awful lot. But we need to treat it like gold.”

Why it hasn’t developed before now

Broadmoor is breathtaking in its size. But, save for a few homes, the gravel pit and orchards, it is largely undeveloped.

Ever-shifting sand dunes to the northeast keep city workers busy. White, the community development manager, said a fence meant to prevent sand from drifting across Broadmoor is buried under 6 feet of sand that wasn’t there just a few years ago. The city plans to remove it to salvage damaged landscaping in the area.

It might seem odd that a site that’s visible from I-182 and connected at Broadmoor is so sparsely used. The reason is simple: the city extended water service to the area, but not sewer. The homes being built in subdivisions north of Burns can use septic systems because of the low-density nature of the area. Some builders advertise one-acre lots.

White said the sewer line serving Delta High School and its neighbors on the opposite side of Broadmoor Boulevard is at capacity and can’t take on the new burden. Instead, the city will extend the line serving the Court Street corridor under I-182 into Broadmoor.

The Court Street line that parallels the river is so underused that city workers have to periodically flush it to keep waste moving. When it stagnates, it corrodes lines. As Broadmoor develops, it add more volume to the pipes to prevent stagnation and help the system work better.

The vision and the need

Current zoning and land use requirements would allow about 5,000 single family homes in the Broadmoor area, excluding areas north of Burns Road that already are developing.

Hansen said proper planning could boost that to more than 8,300 homes. Areas closest to the river could even support medium-rise condominiums as high as seven stories.

The central area would support medium density development while the sites fronting Broadmoor would be reserved for mixed use commercial. Land along the freeway would be earmarked for office development.

The plan calls for about 1.3 million square feet of commercial development. Auto Zone opened a 444,000-square-foot warehouse near the King City truck stop last year.

The Pasco School District is preparing for more students in the area as well.

It has plans to build its 17th elementary and fourth middle school on Burns Road east of Broadmoor. It recently paid $2.5 million for a 72.5-acre site at Burns Road near Dent. The site is large enough for a high school.

The elementary and middle schools were included in the $99.5 million bond Pasco voters approved in November.

Assuming Pasco continues to grow at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, it will add about 10,000 residents by 2025, according to calculations based on data from the Washington State Office of Financial Management.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell