Yakima under pressure to develop old Cascade Mill Site

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima's under pressure to move forward with developing the Cascade Mill Site after losing out on more than a million dollars in state funding for taking so long.

The old mill site has been an ugly welcome sign into Yakima for years. Plans for development could transform the area into a center for retail, industry and recreation.

Nearby businesses like Bob's Burger and Brew would like to see it.

"Something needs to be developed there instead of having people drive by and it just sitting there and not being used," said Bob's Burger and Brew manager Sarah Dennis.

Talk of development here isn't new. However, the pressure is now on the city to move forward with a plan or risk losing state matching funds.

At a study session, Yakima City council members and County Commissioners discussed the latest plan.

Economists predict it would generate more than 4,600 jobs.

And, generate $400-million dollars in sales tax revenue over a 30-year period. It's a project that requires heavy capital improvements,

In 2009, Yakima was awarded state matching funds to improve the site.

KIMA, "Has the city not taken full advantage of that money up until this point?"

"The clock may have prematurely started," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke. "There may not have been a comprehensive game plan in place. That's why we wanted to have this discussion today to get a game plan in place."

It means Yakima has already lost out on $1.2-million.

Yakima City leaders say developing the Cascade Mill site is not only complicated by funding issues, but environmental concerns.

And, of the 200 or so acres at the site, the city currently owns none of it.

The project also includes modifying the I-82 Fair Avenue exit, environmental assessments and work on the East - West Corridor.

City leaders now aren't sure whether they want to move forward with a regional soccer complex. Or find another use for that section.

"It's money! I think Yakima would profit from anything going there, instead of sitting it there vacant," Dennis said.

Yakima city leaders plan to use reserves to front the costs associated with the development. That money will come back to the city the following year from the state.

There will be more another discussion at the next city council meeting.