PUD commissioners vote to pursue new option to redevelop Fifth Street campus

by Rachel Hansen | Feb 21, 2023

Chelan PUD commissioners unanimously voted to begin negotiations with YMCA and Music Theatre of Wenatchee (MTW) as the first step on a new path to redevelop the utility’s 7.5-acre Fifth Street campus. (Audio starts at 19:05 on the board recording.)

The new plan was among a range of options presented today. Commissioners considered:

  1. Postponing action until market conditions improve
  2. Listing the property for sale and allowing the market to drive redevelopment
  3. Hiring a real estate broker to market the property to developers, then evaluating proposals
  4. Developing anchor uses by selling parts of the site to YMCA and MTW, then hiring a broker to market the remaining parcels
  5. Partnering with other agencies, such as the City of Wenatchee and Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority – to take on full development of the site

As commissioners weighed the pros and cons of each option, they also considered the overall project goal, which is to find a path forward that balances:

  • The community vision for the site
  • Timely redevelopment
  • The best value to PUD customer-owners
  • Resources required for success

Representatives from the Port, Wenatchee Downtown Association, YMCA, MTW and a member of the public expressed support for options four and five. The YMCA wants to relocate its downtown facility to Fifth Street. MTW is interested in expanding Riverside Playhouse and securing parking.

“We all want the same thing. We want a spectacular redevelopment on the Fifth Street campus,” said Jim Kuntz, chief executive officer of the Port. “I think we’ll get there. You’re doing bite-sized pieces and the new direction is a good one.”

Staff will update commissioners on negotiations by late June. The PUD plans site preparation and demolition work in early 2024.

The PUD began collaborating on a community-supported vision for redevelopment of the property about five years ago with the City of Wenatchee, the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority, Wenatchee Downtown Association, the Greater Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce and a community advisory group.

“We needed to serve our customers better by moving out to Olds Station,” said Commissioner Steve McKenna, citing a study that calculated the cost of maintaining the PUD’s aging, scattered locations would be greater over time than building a central campus.

“One of the consequences to doing that is vacating this property,” McKenna said. “Now, we’ve taken a big step in providing another improvement to the community by doing something thoughtful and working hand in hand with the community.”

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