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Published: March 8, 2008

Portland group to study development of 330 acres in north Richland

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Three owners of land in the Tri-Cities Research District signed contracts Friday to have TVA Architects of Portland perform a six-month study for developing 330 acres in north Richland.

The agreements between the Port of Benton, Solaris Group and Battelle Memorial Institute will provide a unified approach to building the first facilities for a research campus in the district.

"This is a remarkable asset for the Tri-Cities that will help provide jobs as Hanford cleanup winds down," said Mike Kluse, interim director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy.

The research district, which was created in 1990 with nearly 1,600 acres, is expected to be a campus of offices and laboratories, incubator offices for start-up companies and a mix of commercial and retail businesses that would include restaurants and a day care, said Stefee Knudsen of TVA Architects. There also would be recreational and cultural facilities.

The master plan will include an area defined by Battelle Boulevard on the north, George Washington Way on the east, Stevens Center to the south and Stevens Drive on the west.

Battelle owns 110 acres in the district and the Port of Benton has 72 acres. Solaris Group of Richland has the remaining 150 acres.

Bob Price, manager of Solaris, said he expects to see a minimum of 1 million square feet of new buildings on the 330 acres, with a potential of 15,000 to 20,000 employees.

"There is already interest expressed by other entities," Price said. "Prospective technology firms need to see that we have a vision for this area," he added.

Once a master plan is done, the real marketing efforts will begin.

Diahann Howard, executive director for the district and director of economic development and governmental affairs for the port, said developing the core area of 330 acres "will be a catalyst to replace lost jobs" once cleanup at Hanford is done.

Knudsen said the planning effort will look at what is allowed by the city of Richland, then consider what should be part of a research campus.

"We want to have a livable work place and a sustainable environment," she said at the contract signing ceremony held in the Battelle Auditorium at PNNL.

Knudsen said there will be cost estimates and a series of presentations for the community beginning this summer as to what is envisioned.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the partnerships between the three groups played a big role in getting the master plan effort under way.

Howard said the port's share of the cost in the master plan is $75,000. She did not know what Battelle and Solaris were paying.

"It just makes sense to use the same architect. We want this master plan to be unified," she said.

PNNL's EDO

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