Opinion

Our Voice: Richland market place complements other plans

For the naysayers who have long held that there is nothing to do in Tri-Cities, we have news for you: Your days of whining are numbered.

Big things are in the works, from the makeover of Columbia Drive to the rebirth of Vista Field. Progress is actually visible, most notably along Columbia Drive, evidence that plans have led to action.

Another high profile location that has long cried for a revival of some kind is the spot along George Washington Way at the gateway to Richland, known to some as the “big hole.” The unsightly lot, which housed the old community center, has been the target of many a failed redevelopment plan in recent years.

But now a group has an idea that is catching the attention of the city and the public: a mini version of something along the lines of Pike Place Market.

A more apt description might be a clone of the Pybus Market in Wenatchee. Plans in Richland call for a 25,000-square-

foot market housing local restaurants on the ground floor. A coffee shop, bakery, butcher shop, flower market, beer and wine growler vendor, along with tea, vegetable and spice stalls are all part of the vision.

The spaces would be small, most at 550 square feet, and the area would be enclosed and climate controlled with some seasonal outdoor space for the warmer months.

Adam Brault, a local business owner with a passion for a

renaissance in Richland property, has had several ideas for the space, but this one is by far the most popular. His software company would occupy office space on the second floor of the market building. Local support has exploded since the idea was announced last week.

The city likes the idea too. The Economic Development Committee recently recommended selling the property for just over $800,000 to the Crown Group, a developer Brault recruited and one that shares his vision. The city council is expected to vote on the sale this month.

The developer would receive a $300,000 redevelopment credit and be required to demolish the CREHST building and improve the greenbelt trail along the property. The trail is just another benefit to the location, making the Tri-City Public Market a place that people could ride or walk to with ease and safety.

The project is by no means a done deal, and the developer plans a feasibility study if the city approves the sale. An alternate plan might be office and traditional restaurant space, but it seems like all involved have their hearts set on the public market concept.

Like many in the community, the public market idea quickly caught our interest. It’s a great fit given our region’s role in agriculture and wine production, and a very attractive addition for Richland for locals and tourists alike.

We look forward to the

evolution of the big hole

to something much more

inviting.

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