Tackling toxics leads to economic boon for Wenatchee

group of people standing with a picture.

Holding up a rendering of the new hotel and conference center, from left to right: Steve King, City of Wenatchee; Valerie Bound, Matt Durkee, and Mary Monahan, Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program; and Justin Clary, Maul Foster Alongi.

Recently, the city of Wenatchee celebrated the groundbreaking for a new four-story, 174-room hotel and conference center, the Hilton Garden Inn, to be built along the city’s waterfront area. The development, a former public works yard, is a great example of how cleanups can help to turn blighted properties into new investments.

Although the three-acre site was located on prime real estate near the Columbia River, for years developers were discouraged by the liability from potential contamination. In 2009, Ecology provided the city with a $150,000 Brownfields Integrated Planning Grant that funded an investigation of the contamination on the site and a redevelopment assessment. 

Various contaminants including lead, arsenic, benzene, and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were found in the soil. The city entered the site into Ecology’s Voluntary Cleanup Program, bringing in our staff to provide technical assistance.
The preferred cleanup plan included capping the contaminated soil with a new building footprint, parking lot, and landscaping. Following construction of the cap, an environmental covenant was recorded for the property to ensure the cap remains in place.
In March 2016, Ecology determined that the site no longer posed a risk to human health or the environment. Cleaning up the site allowed the city to find a developer, Spokane-based A&A Construction and Development Company.
The hotel will be located just north of the Pybus Public Market, a successful waterfront development, and part of a broader development plan for the area (watch this video to learn how cleanups helped transform the Wenatchee waterfront).

During the August 4 groundbreaking ceremony, former Wenatchee Mayor Dennis Johnson said that the hotel “is the culmination of a dream that began 15 or 16 years ago. It’s an important project to help tie together pieces of development along the waterfront.”
Current Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz said that the brownfield redevelopment will complement the adjacent market and neighboring downtown businesses, create jobs for the community, generate local and state tax revenues, and address a lodging shortage.
This has been an “impressive collaboration” with the city and its consultants, said Jim Pendowski, program manager of Ecology’s Toxics Cleanup Program. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than the city and we appreciate their openness and willingness to think long term about what benefits their community.”
This urban revitalization project is an excellent example of how local governments can use Ecology-provided tools to enhance their communities.