Revamp of Columbia Drive moving forward

Revamp of Columbia Drive moving forward
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Many people wonder why we don't have more restaurants or even a boardwalk to take advantage of the riverfront.

But some community leaders have been working on fixing this for years and they're getting closer to making it a reality.

It's a prime piece of land begging for a makeover. And little by little, the powers that be have worked to make that happen.

The City and Port of Kennewick have bought land and torn down buildings along Columbia Drive. Setting the stage for a giant overhaul of the area between the two bridges.

"This would re-create the downtown area," says Gus Kittson.

Gus has lived here for his whole life. He runs KIE Supply on Columbia Drive. He says proposed changes would be good for the city, but it could mean he'd have to move.

"When a business has been in one location for between 55 and 60 years, you don't--moving is not going to be a real pleasant experience, I can tell you that."

A wine village and new restaurants were already planned for the area near Duffy's Pond.

New to the plans are parking lots which would line the opposite side of the main road. And a wide median down the middle of the street.
This is all focused on increasing the waterfront access, which many feel is lacking in our area.

Gus would have to give up his riverfront property to be part of the future.

"I'm probably the one with the most skin left in this deal here. I've got almost 60 employees working in this area and I have almost four acres or better of this land down here, and it's a lot of my family's investment," he says.

Gus figures it could cost $500,000 to move KIE. But says he's willing to negotiate with the Port. So after years of planning, Kennewick City Council will decide Tuesday if the changes to Columbia Drive will happen, or be just another distant plan.

The city and port are holding a joint meeting Tuesday at 6:30 at the Clover Island Inn.

3D models and architects will be present to answer questions and advise council.

You're encouraged to attend and give input.