New plan for hole on George Washington Way

RICHLAND, Wash. -- There's a new plan for the giant dirt pit in downtown Richland along George Washington Way.

Richland owns the land and now there are plans to put an office building on the lot. It's two acres near the CREHST Museum that has provided an unwelcome greeting to the central business district.

You may remember a few years ago Richland sold the land. It was where the old recreation center once sat. A developer had lofty plans for a high-rise with condos, stores and a parking garage.

The developer went bankrupt. And the city finally bought the pit back out of foreclosure.

Back in September 2010, KEPR Action News pulled the numbers to break down taxpayer money the city invested to that point.

We discovered Richland sold the land for $300,000 and eventually bought it back for a similar amount. That cost, plus investments made, meant the city spent $400,000. So that's $100,000 invested.

The giant hole that looks like a small rock quarry seems to have a permanent place in Richland.

Doug Waltman, has lived here for years. He said, "Right now, it's pretty much a bad impression when you come into Richland."

He isn't the only one who thinks this. The gap in the ground is the first thing you see when you enter the city. Long gone is the old recreation center. In its place, broken promises of future development.

The city says they could have already developed the land. We could be filling up at a gas station, or eating at a new fast food restaurant, instead they decided to take their time to get this project just right.

Enter Spectrum Park. The CREHST Museum will move over to the REACH center making way for this new building.

The top two floors will be state of the art business space. The idea is to move hi-tech jobs from the west-side to Tri-Cities. The bottom level will cater to restaurants and coffee shops.

Richland's Assistant City Manager, Bill King, says this is a key piece to redeveloping the area.

"This project has the potential to really turn that around. And set the tone for other things that we hope to see in the Central Business District," he said.

Doug would agree.

"Right now, we're just kinda left over from the Hanford thing and we're starting to develop our own personality as a city and I think that's a great expression of that," he said.

Letting Richland did itself out of a hole.

The city will partner with the new developer to make sure the project goes according to plan.

A final proposal on the deal is expected this summer with ground breaking by the end of this year.