Mayor: A vacated PUD may not bring needed housing

The Chelan County PUD headquarters at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

WENATCHEE — Sale and development plans for the Chelan County PUD’s Fifth Street headquarters are pushing forward.

On Monday the PUD plans to approve an interlocal agreement with the Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority (CDRPA) regarding the 8-acre campus on the southeast corner of North Wenatchee Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Wenatchee.

The agreement is the latest step in an almost two-year development planning process in preparation for the PUD’s move to Olds Station. It will turn over responsibility for redevelopment planning, brokering and marketing to the regional port, which will receive a reimbursement of direct expenses not to exceed $50,000.

If the port is able to secure buyers, it will also receive an escalating marketing fee of 2% to 4% of the sales price of the property, which is valued at approximately $5.9 million.

For the PUD, this agreement seemed like a natural choice.

“Marketing property is not a core competency of the PUD — we’re a utility company,” said Dan Frazier, the PUD’s director of Shared Services. “We’re not out there doing these types of redevelopment activities, but the port is.”

He said the interlocal agreement establishes the framework for how the PUD and CDRPA will work together, including scoring proposals and figuring out what development projects will best align with what the community wants.

“There’s been fear of when the PUD leaves, what comes in its place?” Frazier said. “We’re going to do what we can to make sure the site develops in a positive and beneficial way. Having the port involved in this — they’re going to have a much better ability to get to the right people that will help us make that happen.”

Jim Kuntz, the port’s CEO, said the port will also look into the viability of adaptive reuse plans, which would remodel and repurpose existing structures for different uses.

“Our goal is to save whatever buildings we can,” Kuntz said. “It’s too early to tell exactly which buildings get repurposed and if all the buildings remain on site, but we have a vision.”

After meeting with private developers, the port will eventually present the PUD with redevelopment packages, but Kuntz said the PUD ultimately has the final decision. He added the port will begin putting a marketing plan together as soon as the agreement is signed by the PUD commissioners.

Frazier said the PUD hopes to put out a request for proposals this fall and have some of the development under contracts by the end of the year. Since the PUD won’t move off site until the first quarter of 2023, future developers would have a year or so to plan.

Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said he’s supportive of the interlocal agreement and believes the city may also have skills to offer when it comes to the development of the property.

“Having the port involved is great,” the mayor said. “That’s a large parcel, so I would certainly hope that a portion of that would end up in the hands of someone who could build some sort of residential component.”

Sydnee Gonzalez: (509) 661-5216

gonzalez@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @sydnee_gonzalez