By Vicki Hillhouse , October 29, 2013, Walla Walla Union Bulletin
The Port of Walla Walla will cast a line out to commercial real estate developers this week to gauge interest in building retail facilities at its Burbank Business Park.
The economic development agency, which owns 146 acres in Burbank, plans to issue a request for qualifications from interested developers by the end of this week.
The hope is to compile a list of developers who may be interested in creating an urban-like downtown look along one stretch, a major big-box concept that could serve at a second parcel, or both.
The long-term vision is to mix commercial retail with the industrial uses and infuse goods and services to serve the roughly 3,300 Burbank residents, the more than 3,100 year-round workers at major employers in Burbank and Wallula, plus neighbors in Pasco, Port officials say.
During a Port meeting last week, Executive Director Jim Kuntz said a grocery store could be a welcome anchor. Other businesses could include fast-food stops, a bank and more.
The downtown design concept includes parcels along U.S. Highway 12 frontage.
The agency could sell or lease the properties, but has a vision for the look as well as covenants, conditions and restrictions that must be followed to maintain continuity and design standards. Amendments could be considered if selected developers demonstrate good reasons for them.
We’re hoping upon hope there will be a handful of people who say ‘I like what I see here,’” Kuntz told Port commissioners last week.
The goal was to issue the request for qualifications by Wednesday or sometime this week.
Developers would have all of November to respond. That would give the Port the all of December to review submissions and decide how to proceed with a follow-up request for proposals.
Retail is a new layer of development at the business park after years of utility and road work in the area.
The Port built a new water system to serve the area and community as a whole. It’s currently working on a sewer system that would pipe waste under the Snake River and into Pasco, where the Port has an agreement with that community for wastewater treatment. The Port is also touting the state Department of Transportation’s $23.1 million grade separated interchange in Burbank as a selling point for developers.