KENNEWICK — The dream of a year-round indoor market in the Tri-Cities is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Its owners want to bring the atmosphere of Pike’s Place Market in Seattle and of Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee to shoppers in the Tri-Cities.

What was once a Welch’s Grape Juice plant will soon become the first large indoor market in the Tri-Cities.

The Public Market at Columbia Warehouse will open in two phases and have room for up to 140 vendors, starting this spring with a coffee shop, produce sellers, artists and homes good vendors selling items such as decor, antiques, candles and specialty foods.

Ice Harbor Brewing will move its downtown location to the second floor of the building, above the market, along with an expected event venue and commercial kitchen expected to open at a later date.

Public Market

Project Manager Audra Thurman said they have began leasing out spaces for Phase 1 of the project, which will be the portion that launches this spring.

She said that phase will involve 50 to 70 vendors. Workers have been separating the stall areas, but ultimately it will be the vendors who decide what their space will look like. Thurman said their goal is to give vendors the freedom to create a space of their own.

The market will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and for special events. She said they’ve already leased a variety of spaces ranging from single spots to larger setups that incorporate two to four of the 13-foot by 14-foot stalls.

Vendors have the option of leasing for three months, six months or a year.

“It really is their own little storefront. They’ll have a gate that shuts and locks, so they really can come to work, close it up when they leave and not have to worry about breaking down,” Thurman said. “You can’t beat these prices to have a brick and mortar.”

The facility

The 60,000-square-foot market will occupy the entire first floor of a downtown warehouse. It is one of two indoor public markets hoping to open in the Tri-Cities in 2022.

The building was formerly part of a juice processing facility that was sold to J. Lieb Foods after Welch’s shuttered its Tri-Cities operations in 2006.

The property was put back on the market after J. Lieb was sold in 2019. The plant built in 1950 includes five buildings, totaling 210,000 square feet. No announcement has been made about what the rest of the property will become.

The market has hosted several open houses for vendors, and is working to ensure they have a good variety of products for their launch.

“This market was created because there really is such a need in the community, and it’s an answer to a lot of people’s problems coming off of a year or two years of shaky ground,” Thurman said. “There are so many vendors, and business owners and entrepreneurs in our city that really need this (kind of place).”

Thurman said the market is looking to be a partner with vendors, rather than just a landlord.

She also said their pricing for an entire month is comparable to what vendors can expect to pay for a single weekend at shows and markets they travel to.

Their hope is to showcase all the talent and creativity the Tri-Cities has to offer. Thurman said individual pricing will depend on vendor needs, and their desired length of lease. They also will offer some weekend spaces.

”We want the community to come in and catch that vision by being here and experiencing it. We hope that it’s a win for vendors for the community and the public. We hope it’s also a place where we can bring a collection of different fields together,” she said.

”To me, it’s such a beautiful woven tapestry of what’s in our community. That all exists right now, so if we can bring them all together and give them an opportunity to show off what they do, that’s a success.”

Ice Harbor Brewery

Thurman said there are also several other exciting projects that will be opening upstairs to complement the market, including a large event center for weddings, a commercial kitchen with spaces for rent and the brewery.

Ice Harbor Brewery told the Herald it was begun work renovating its new location above the market.

The market will have a separate entrance from the upstairs tenants since it will only be open three days a week.

”To say they’re separate from the public market is true, but we’re all under one building,” she said. “Shoppers will have an opportunity to sit down and have dinner, or have a drink before they come to the public market.”

Thurman said that at the end of the day, they want to fill a void for shoppers who might otherwise have to travel hours for a similar experience.

Ice Harbor will be moving less than half a mile to the east of their longtime flagship brewpub in a two-story grain mill. The distinctive landmark at 206 N. Benton St. sits next to the BNSF rail lines.

Ice Harbor has been a mainstay in downtown Kennewick for 25 years. Ice Harbor owners Mike Hall and Bill Jaquish also operate Ice Harbor at the Marina on Clover Island.

Pasco indoor market

The Public Market at Columbia Warehouse isn’t the only indoor market hoping to open in the Tri-Cities in 2022.

Another market is set to come in with the Port of Pasco’s Osprey Pointe development on the waterfront.

Port officials told the Herald that market, which will be in a pre-fabricated metal building, is hoping to get permits to begin work soon.

Thurman said they aren’t worried about who’s first though.

“We’re definitely not walking slowly, but we are walking real intently and with purpose,” she said. “We want to do as much right as we can the first time. We’re all human. We’re not striving for perfection, but we definitely want to hit the ball out of the park for vendors and the community.”

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