Why is the City of Yakima involved in redevelopment of a private property?

The City of Yakima was awarded funding in 2010 from the State of Washington to pay for engineering, street development and infrastructure costs. The program is called Local Infrastructure Finance Tool or “LIFT” for short. The LIFT program was developed as an economic development tool for select communities in the State of Washington. The City of Yakima will use LIFT funds for road, infrastructure and environmental cleanup items, not actual property redevelopment.

How will the improvements be paid for?

In order to get full use of LIFT funds, the City of Yakima had to spend funds to secure a match from the State of Washington. The City has been able to use a number of existing services, studies and programs as match for the LIFT funds. At full capacity, the City may receive up to $25 million from the State of Washington to bond for up to $50 million in projects at the site.

Improvements to the I-82 bridges, ramps and corridor, as well as construction of a new bridge over I-82 and a new bridge over the Yakima River as part of the East-West Corridor, are funded as part of the Connecting Washington Transportation Package, approved by the State Legislature in 2015.

Is the City working with other partners on this project?

The City of Yakima does not, and will not, own any of the millsite land, except what is necessary for street construction. Therefore, the property owners are a significant partner. Also, Yakima County has been the lead agency on much of the street design issues, since the East-West Corridor is part of this redevelopment project. The South Central Regional Office of the Washington State Department of Transportation “WSDOT” has been a partner in the interchange and I-82 project. The Federal Highway Administration “FHWA” is an approving organization for the interchange project. Yakima Valley Conference of Governments “YVCOG” has also assisted in the Interchange Justification Report. Department of Ecology “DOE” continues to work with the City on environmental funding and environmental cleanup permitting.

When will the new streets get built?

The new roundabout at Fair Avenue/ Lincoln Avenue/ Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd was the first improvement for the street pattern in the Cascade Mill Redevelopment Area. It was finished in late 2015 and will provide the access into the landfill site, which will assist in future cleanup activities. Internal streets are planned to be four lane boulevards with landscaped medians and limited driveways. Sidewalks and bike lanes are planned for the major streets.

Additional streets will begin construction in 2018. Freeway improvements are scheduled to begin approximately 2021.

What opportunities will there be for public input?

All street construction projects will have a public comment process. Comments about new construction projects will depend upon the specific size and type of development. You may call the City of Yakima Planning Division for questions about project level reviews at 509-575-6183.

What will the new interchange look like?

There will be a new built bridge over I-82 to connect Terrace Heights to Yakima, which will carry four lanes of traffic. Additionally, a new pathway to the Yakima Greenway will be included in the project to enhance public access to existing facilities. The project is not actually a new interchange, but a modification to the Yakima Avenue & I-82 Interchange. A central part of the project is the construction of a new set of access ramps and a frontage road, which will provide a combined point of entry and exit to new and existing streets.

How did a landfill end up at the Boise Cascade Mill?

The City of Yakima had a contract with the former property owner (Boise Cascade Lumber) in about 1962, which authorized filling a former log pond with general municipal solid waste. This land was used for municipal waste from approximately 1963 to 1972. The area affected by municipal waste is approximately 28 acres in size and is located south of the existing railroad tracks. There are an estimated 440,000 cubic yards of municipal waste on site, which is now covered with bark, wood debris and dirt. The depth of municipal waste is generally less than five to seven feet below the grade of the land and to a depth of about 18 feet.

Is the City of Yakima going to redevelop this land?

The City of Yakima does not own any of the land and does not plan on purchasing any land for redevelopment.

What kind of environmental contamination is present on the landfill site?

The contaminants that are associated with municipal waste include landfill gas, especially methane and carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen sulfide. There is also potential for heavy metals, petroleum products, and various other materials. The monitoring of groundwater moving under the site is also a primary item of study.

Will the landfill cleanup have a negative impact to the Yakima River or the neighborhood?

The City of Yakima is working closely with the Washington State Department of Ecology “DOE” to ensure that environmental cleanup and remediation of the landfill is conducted in the most careful and appropriate manner. As the private property develops in the future, environmental cleanup will also be guided by DOE.

What kind of new development is going to be built?

What kind of development occurs on the site will be decided by the property owners. In 2014, the City hired a professional firm to produce an Economic Analysis to determine the best and most suitable land uses for the entire Mill Redevelopment Area. The study, produced by Jones, Lang LaSalle, indicated that the site is most suitable for retail uses, including such things as an auto mall and general retail, light industrial, office park, and education facilities.

Why has this site sat empty and been an eyesore for so long?

The former owner closed most of the Boise Cascade Mill in 2006 and operations completely stopped in 2008. In 2010, the City of Yakima was awarded LIFT funds, but in order to redevelop this industrial site, significant environmental study and cleanup is necessary, as well as planning and coordination of new streets and freeway access. This very complicated project has required cooperation and investment to enable redevelopment. The funding for I-82 and related freeway access by the State of Washington has reduced the development timeline from a 30-year project to a 5-year project.