Tri-Cities has nearly doubled since the early 80s and it’s not slowing down

With an apartment vacancy rate under 2 percent and a population pushing 300,000, the Tri-Cities of a decade ago is nothing like it is today. Recent trends point towards that growth continuing.

“If you look just over the last eight or ten years, we’ve seen growth that’s way out stripped every other place in the state,” said Carl Adrian, CEO of the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC).

In Benton and Franklin County, there is an estimated total of 289,960 people – an increase of about 93 percent since 1981, averaging a one to two percent increase each year.

“People are moving here to retire, people are moving here because it’s a good place to find work, and people are moving here because of the climate or because of the affordability,” said Adrian, who said employment at the Hanford site, responsible from bringing thousands of people to the region, has actually been flat since the early 2000s.

However, as population is going up, affordability and availability is going down.

“I think that availability of housing is a concern right now,” said Adrian.

Data from last spring shows that Benton and Franklin Counties had the greatest decline in apartment vacancy in the state of Washington, down to 1.1 percent.

Developers are now trying to keep up with demand. A couple of the major projects, either underway or recently completed, include the Badger Canyon Apartments – a brand new, 640-unit apartment complex on the outskirts of Kennewick, and the Broadmoor project in Pasco – 1,600-plus acres slated to become a mixed-use development featuring homes, commercial space and parks.

In Richland, the notorious pit that sits at the entryway into the city will soon be home to Park Place – the first mid-rise complex in the Tri-Cities, featuring underground parking and retail space.

“It is unique,” said John Crook, the developer working on the project. “It’s going to be more of an urban style apartment building than what we’ve seen here.”

Crook saw a need to fill in the Tri-Cities and moved from Seattle in 1996 to start Paragon Corporate Housing.

“We think that the downtown cores here have a lot to offer they just need a little bit of work,” he said.

Not only is the Tri-Cities changing, it’s getting noticed. A recent CNN article touted its wine country, and another website listed every community in the Tri-Cities in the top 10 places to invest in real estate.

“In most markets, you have a big complex that’s constructed and you’re overbuilt for short time until the market catches up, but in our case it doesn’t seem that that’s happening,” said Adrian. “It seems like there are people that are filling the new apartments as they’re being built.”

Overall population is expected to hit 300,000 soon, if it hasn’t already. And as a transplant from the west side of the state himself, Crook can see what draws people to this growing area.

“We do since a growing mass of people who want to live in more of an urban setting but don’t want to be necessarily in Seattle or Portland,” said Crook. “There are people that really want to be in a place where they’re not fighting traffic for two hours a day and where they have a good education system for their schools.”

Be the first to know with the KAPP-KVEW TV news app. Breaking news alerts, watch live newscasts and get the most up-to-date local news on the go. Click here to download for iOS and Android.