Tri-City Herald: KID’s exit from downtown could be a needed reboot

After having its administrative offices in downtown Kennewick for more than 50 years, the Kennewick Irrigation District is moving.

And while that may seem like a loss for the downtown area, it seems like a smart business move for KID.

After all, downtown Kennewick isn’t even in the boundaries of the irrigation district.

And the move will consolidate efforts with KID’s field staff, based on Ely Street.

KID will shift all operations to the Ely Street property and build a new $2.25 million office building there. One goal is to improve customer service and management of staff.

Officials aren’t sure how much the renovated historic building on Kennewick Avenue will sell for. They plan to use existing resources to cover any gap between the sale of the former JCPenney building with a prime downtown parking lot and their new office.

Another goal of the move is to remedy some internal cultural issues at KID created by the separation of management and staff. Communication should improve with the 57 employees when they’re all at the same site on a daily basis. Officials expect to have the move complete in about a year and a half.

Some may see this as another abandonment by a long-established downtown business. But KID has done much work on the 16,000-square foot building and it could create a great opportunity for a business or businesses looking to join what is becoming a bustling downtown.

It is a big plus that the building comes with dedicated parking. If you have not been downtown lately, it’s worth revisiting. It’s even hard to find a parking space at peak times.

The KID building also sits just a few blocks off the Port of Kennewick’s revitalization project on Columbia Drive, aimed at bringing tourists and locals to the riverfront and downtown areas.

To us, it appears KID is trying to create a more efficient operation and that’s a good thing. The irrigation district has been plagued by missteps in recent years and this could be a great way to begin anew with its staff.

Customers who need to visit the administrative offices will be going to a location within the district, which makes a lot of sense. And the Ely Street location offers easier access for many.

Let’s hope the marketing of the downtown building is aggressive and creative so that it sells quickly and draws a new occupant who becomes a vibrant part of downtown Kennewick.