Education

CBC plots $10M culinary move to Kennewick waterfront

Construction work continues on the Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village project. Columbia Basin College has recently announced that it is working with the port and city to build a $10 million cooking school on the site.
Construction work continues on the Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village project. Columbia Basin College has recently announced that it is working with the port and city to build a $10 million cooking school on the site. Tri-City Herald

Columbia Basin College hopes to develop a $10 million culinary school next to Duffy’s Pond, in what promises to be its first venture into Kennewick.

The ambitious project will serve 120 students and is slated to be built on a former manufactured home park at the Port of Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village, near the cable bridge.

Columbia Gardens is the port’s unbuilt effort to transform an industrial stretch of Columbia Drive into a river-oriented visitor destination, dotted with wineries and other upscale amenities.

Banlin Construction begins building the first phase of Columbia Gardens this month — two small winery spaces and a support building. The port is negotiating with three prospective tenants for the two spaces, but has not finalized a lease. It is optimistic two wineries will be operational before the 2017 fall crush.

Buoyed by strong interest, the Kennewick City Council and port commission agreed Tuesday to launch the second phase, which sets the stage for CBC to establish its culinary outpost in Kennewick. At a joint session, the elected leaders of both agencies voted to develop infrastructure to open up neighboring sites for development.

Under the agreement, the city will install utilities and a road to the west of the first phase. Its contribution would be funded with the nearly $1 million it received from Benton County Rural Capital Fund. The fund is fueled by Washington’s 0.09 percent sales tax rebate to local governments to support economic development.

The investment will support eventual construction of CBC’s two-story, 20,000-square-foot culinary school. CBC has given itself four years to raise the $10 million. It’s one of the most ambitious fundraising goals in its history.

“It’s a big lift,” said CBC President Rich Cummins, who notes the college raised $12 million to support projects at its Pasco campus and its Richland health science center.

It’s a big lift.

Rich Cummins, Columbia Basin College

Tim Arntzen, the port’s CEO, said the success of the first phase of Columbia Gardens gave staff confidence to contemplate the next steps. CBC’s desire to be part of the effort strengthens the vision of Columbia Gardens and is a win for Tri-City students interested in culinary careers.

“We raise really bright kids in this community, and then they go to Seattle or Portland or Spokane for these opportunities,” he said.

We raise really bright kids in this community, and then they go to Seattle or Portland or Spokane for these opportunities.

Tim Arntzen, Port of Kennewick

Cummins said the unnamed culinary school’s food focus will complement the wine focus of Columbia Gardens.

The backers will form a development district to raise public and private money to build and equip the school, Cummins said. A similar approach was employed to secure $23 million to open the Ste. Michelle Estates Wine Science Center at Washington State University Tri-Cities a little more than a year ago.

The CBC culinary school will feature an event center, two to three kitchens and a student-run restaurant and bakery. The college intends to offer two cooking classes annually and a baking course, all dovetailing with the existing culinary program for high schoolers at the Tri-Tech Skills Center.

It provides that big boost that this part of town needed.

Tim Arntzen, Port of Kennewick

Cummins said CBC is excited to venture into Kennewick from its Pasco base and Richland branch.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how to establish something in Kennewick,” he said.

The port’s Arntzen said CBC’s interest in building a school at Columbia Gardens affirms its role in revitalizing a stretch of waterfront dominated by car dealerships and industrial operations that face the street, not the nearby Columbia River.

“It provides that big boost that this part of town needed,” he said.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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