RICHLAND -- A dream of further developing an upscale business park in north Richland that might one day resemble Nike's or Microsoft's well-known campuses has moved another step forward.
Steel framing already is in place for a planned 46,000-square-foot office building at 2801 Salk Ave., said Rick Parsons, general manager of Innovation Center TCRD.
The Richland-based private development company received a building permit earlier this month to build the $6.5 million, three-story structure on 90 acres it owns in the Tri-Cities Research District.
"It's the first private development in probably five years" in the district, Parsons said. The building will be "top-tier ... modern-office construction," he added.
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In addition, a second $4.5 million, 17,000-square-foot structure is being planned nearby on the same 90 acres.
The first building will meet international standards for environmentally friendly construction, Parsons said, with construction to be completed by Aug. 1. Portland-based CSI Construction Co. is the general contractor.
Innovation Center TCRD is in the process of signing a lease with a tenant, whom Parsons declined to name, though he said it is a Tri-City company.
The building will be part of the Tri-Cities Research District, he said. The district encompasses about 1,700 acres, including adjacent properties owned by Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Washington State University Tri-Cities and the Port of Benton.
The four entities formed a 501(c) 3 -- TCRD LLC -- to develop the district to try to attract new businesses that are "independent from the typical Hanford cleanup work," Parsons said.
They want to develop "a best-in-class business campus that combines mixed-use retail and services and class A office buildings and research labs and that promotes the district's vision of a live/learn/work and play environment," he said.
Parsons said district landlords think such development is key to recruiting and retaining young professionals.
"Would you want to be at Microsoft in Seattle or in the tumbleweeds in Richland?" he asked, suggesting the district is aiming toward the Seattle model.
District officials' vision is to include an extended-stay hotel, restaurants and light shopping and services, such as an accounting firm or dry cleaning business, in the district.
Innovation Center TCRD is putting together documents to apply to build the second building, Parsons said, and hopes to complete it by Aug. 1 as well. That one-story building would offer space for offices and a research lab.
The company is negotiating a lease for that space as well, probably with two separate tenants, Parsons said.
Innovation Center TCRD bought the 90 acres for more than $6 million and has awarded about $6 million in contracts for installing infrastructure such as roads.
Local contractors have been working on the roads and will be working on the already-permitted building.
"We're really excited," Parsons said of the new construction. "I'm a longtime Tri-Cities resident. We're excited about providing a diverse workplace for new companies to come to the Tri-Cities."