Port sells land in Research District

A plan to develop a live-learn-work-play environment north of Richland took a small step forward Wednesday.

Port of Benton commissioners approved selling 9.2 acres at the corner of University and Stevens drives to the Richland-based private development company Innovation Center TCRD.

The commission unanimously approved selling the property for $754,600.

Diahann Howard, the port's director of economic development and governmental affairs, said Innovation Center has been talking to possible commercial tenants for the property, which is next to 90 acres Innovation Center already owns.

She said the parcel is part of 14 acres the port bought in the past. The port will use money from the sale to pay off the debt for the sale of all 14 acres.

After the meeting, Howard said she would not name the commercial tenants that have shown an interest in the land because no contracts have been signed.

But she described them as neighborhood commercial businesses, such as coffee shops, dry cleaners and financial institutions.

The nine acres are within the boundaries of the 1,700-acre Tri-Cities Research District, designed to be a center of technological innovation and advancement.

The district includes Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State University Tri-Cities and the Port of Benton.

More specifically, the nine acres are within 325 undeveloped acres in the district that have been planned to be developed as a mix of office and research space, as well as of retail businesses and services, such as restaurants, light shopping and financial services.