WENATCHEE — An eight-story apartment building, a boutique hotel or maybe a satellite campus from a four-year university.
Those are a few of the options under consideration for the Chelan County PUD’s 8-acre campus on the southeast corner of Wenatchee Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Wenatchee.
The utility is planning to move its headquarters out of the city’s core and north to Olds Station, where it’ll combine its administrative and service branches into a single consolidated services center.
The move is still three years away, but redevelopment planning for the current campus is underway, PUD Shared Services Director Dan Frazier said Wednesday.
“The concern from downtown was ‘You guys are a big part of downtown, what are you going to do if you do leave?’” he said.
So the utility partnered with the city of Wenatchee and the Port of Chelan County to finance a $225,000 redevelopment study to analyze the potential uses for the campus, he said.
The study’s final report will be available in January or February, but early results show three primary directions the redevelopment could go: public/nonprofit, residential or commercial.
The end result will almost certainly feature a mix of all three sectors, Frazier said.
“We know when you’re doing this type of planning, it’s about opportunities and options,” he said. “It’s about what works and doesn’t work, so what we’ve provided here is the opportunities for the site. In the end, you’re going to get some mix of this.”
The planning is still in early stages, so the PUD plans to keep working with the city, the port, the Wenatchee Downtown Association and the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce to refine it, Frazier said. The working group will also collect additional feedback through public meetings and web outreach.
Once the move-out gets closer, the PUD plans to split up the campus into several individual parcels, which will make it easier to find interested private developers looking to buy, Frazier said.
“We started through the process and said, ‘What does this look like?’ and everybody said it had to be some kind of multi-use development because it’s so big nobody is going to come in and take the whole 8 acres,” he said.
But there will likely be a residential component to any redevelopment of the campus, Frazier said.
“The No. 1 economically viable use of the site is residential,” Frazier said. “I think everybody who’s been watching what’s happening with Wenatchee and apartments knows that our vacancy rate is extremely low and there’s a desire for downtown living.”