These old Pasco ‘bones’ are getting a $1.2 million makeover

Here’s why Pasco is asking to “Pardon our Dust” at city hall

Zach Ratkai, Pasco's administrative & community services director, provides an overview of a $1.2 million renovation project scheduled for the Pasco City Hall building.
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Zach Ratkai, Pasco's administrative & community services director, provides an overview of a $1.2 million renovation project scheduled for the Pasco City Hall building.

Richland and eventually Kennewick are building new city halls, but the city of Pasco is content to call a 1922 high school its forever home.

Pasco City Hall will get a $1.2 million remodel beginning Jan. 22. The project will create new office and meeting space in the area that the city’s police department vacated when it moved to its new station in 2016.

The old police department offices have been used for storage ever since.

But the city’s population is growing, driving the need for more space for city workers.

Pasco’s population grew by 22 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to Census figures. And the Washington State Office of Financial Management estimates the city will add another 51,000 in the next two decades.

Ratkai Pasco city hall
Zach Ratkai, Pasco’s administrative and community services director, stands in a section of the former Pasco Police Department at city hall. The rooms, currently used for storage, are included in a $1.2 million renovation of the former school building built in 1922. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

The city says it needs more efficient space for collaborative efforts and for the employees it will need to add in order to keep up with future growth.

Original Pasco High

It’s the latest in a series of remodels to the three-story structure at 525 N. Third St. It was built in 1922 as the original Pasco High School and later became McLoughlin Middle School. It was transformed into city hall in 1995.

“It’s a great, historic Pasco structure. We’re just looking to create more office space, ” said Zach Ratkai, administrative and community services director. “We like the building and its bones. The structure is great.”

Construction will continue through October, but should not be too disruptive.

City council members said they were grateful for the chance to make relatively modest upgrades to the existing building instead of being asked to build a new one, a nod to its neighbors.

Richland moves into its new $18.5 million city hall this spring. And Kennewick is exploring the possibility of a $20 million city hall project in 2023.

New Richland city hall
A construction crew member works from a lift on the exterior of the new three-story, 40,000-square foot city hall at 625 Swift Blvd. in central Richland. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

One-stop city permits

Ratkai said workers will modernize the police space first. His department will moved in to the new space, leaving its old first-floor spot free for renovations. The domino-like chain will continue until all the offices have been updated.

The update will allow the finance department to expand into the former police space and development of a new One-Stop Permit Center on the first floor to better serve the public.

The engineering and permitting offices on the second floor will be remodeled and the human resources office on the third floor will get a conference room and new offices.

The affected areas haven’t been remodeled since 1994.

The Pasco City Council awarded the construction contract this week to Booth & Sons Construction Inc. of Kennewick. Booth & Sons was the lowest bidder for the project at $1.17 million, about $500,000 below the engineer’s estimate.

Real estate excise taxes, which are paid when properties sell, will pay for the project.

The budget includes a 20 percent contingency, $250,000 for furniture and $20,000 for security upgrades.

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Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.