Progress Edition

Port of Kennewick: A proven catalyst for regional economic development

Vista Field is a 103-acre former airfield owned by the Port of Kennewick. A community-driven plan has been created for a vibrant, pedestrian-focused, regional town center, featuring mixed-use neighborhoods and urban lifestyle amenities.
Vista Field is a 103-acre former airfield owned by the Port of Kennewick. A community-driven plan has been created for a vibrant, pedestrian-focused, regional town center, featuring mixed-use neighborhoods and urban lifestyle amenities.

Port of Kennewick has developed strong partnerships to transform neighborhoods and bring economic vibrancy to challenged areas throughout our district. We’ve made waterfront investments in Kennewick, Richland and West Richland; we’ve fostered new industries; we’ve championed art as a tool for economic development; and we’ve worked to engage stakeholders and our citizenry in transparent urban planning. Together, the port and its partners have received numerous accolades for these endeavors.

The port and City of Kennewick were honored with the 2018 Governor’s Smart Partnerships Award for their efforts to create the Vista Field Redevelopment Master Plan. Vista Field is a 103-acre former airfield owned by the Port of Kennewick and located within the region’s commercial core. Stakeholders are following a community-driven plan in creating a vibrant, pedestrian-focused, regional town center, featuring mixed-use neighborhoods and urban lifestyle amenities.

Now, Benton County is investing some of its economic development funds to ensure a successful phase one development. The initial, publicly-funded “vertical” infrastructure includes roads, streets, sidewalks, landscaping, a linear park, water feature, and plaza, which creates opportunities for “horizontal” commercial, retail, and residential development by the private sector. The port will sell the land and use those proceeds to fund future infrastructure, in phases, until the site plan is complete. At build-out, Vista Field is expected to generate more than $500 million in private-sector investment with more than 1,000 residential units and 740,000 square feet of commercial space.

In 2018, the Port received the Governor’s Heritage Award for its contributions to Washington’s creative and cultural vitality. The Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honored the port as 2018 Outstanding Business of the Year for working to share the history and culture of underrepresented peoples through quality public art. And the Washington Public Ports Association awarded the Port of Kennewick its 2018 Creative Partnership Award for working with the City of Kennewick, Benton County, Columbia Basin College, Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Advisory Committee, Columbia Center Rotary, Ben Franklin Transit, community members and local businesses to transform Kennewick’s industrial waterfront into a destination gathering-place known as Columbia Gardens Wine & Artisan Village.

Bartholomew Winery and Monarcha/Palencia Wine Company continue creating excitement for the Wine & Artisan Village. Swampy’s BBQ and Frost Me Sweet Mobile Desserts were named premiere tenants for the Food Truck Plaza. An iconic bus shelter, signalized pedestrian crossing, additional artwork, and public restrooms will be completed this year. Another building, set for completion winter 2019, adds tasting rooms for Cave B Estate and Gordon Estate wineries. And the port is selling shovel-ready parcels to bring private sector investment to that waterfront complex.

Enhanced public safety makes good economic sense. In West Richland, the port sold land so that Benton County Fire Protection District No. 4 could build a new station to serve the rapidly growing western portion of their district. With 20,000 more residents anticipated within the next 20 years, sale of that property was critical to supporting this vital public-safety project.

We’ll continue working with City of Richland to transform the Island View neighborhood, roadway and waterfront along Columbia Park Trail. And after two decades of creating, selling and fostering investment at Spaulding Business Park, we’re ready to tackle a shorter-return project. We’ll visit staff to staff, and then engage our citizenry with project ideas. We want to start with a blank slate, facilitate a transparent public involvement process, determine the best use of shared resources and take a novel approach to creating a “next decade plan.”

As always, Port of Kennewick will continue to serve as a catalyst for economic development throughout our 485-square-mile district — rest assured, there is more to come!

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