The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is holding a groundbreaking for what's known as the Trades District project.  

Work will begin to repurpose an 8-acre site with 25 pod buildings that was originally the brainchild of the now-failed cryptocurrency company Giga Watt. 

Trades District Source: Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority. Trades District Campus map.
Trades District Source: Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority.
Trades District Campus map.

The buildings are currently in varying stages of construction. 

Port CEO Jim Kuntz says there's been high expectations for the project.  

"This is an absolute terrific project," said Kuntz. "It's been a long time coming." 

The groundbreaking will take place on June 13th at 11:00 a.m. at the project site, located at South Billingsley Drive, East Wenatchee.  The site is just southwest of Pangborn Airport.

Trades District layout from Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority
Trades District layout from Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority

Port commissioners awarded the project to Cascade Central Construction for $10.3 million to build out Phase 1 of the Trades District. It includes refurbishing 12 of the 25 pod buildings on the site. 

Cascade Central offered the lowest of five bids for a contract which the Port had set at a maximum of $12.6 million. 

With the 8.4% Washington State Sales Tax, the project comes to $11.1 million. A five percent contingency fee was added along with design fees and required inspection fees to bring the cost to roughly $13 million. 

The latest round of bids marked the third time the Port had tried to find a contractor for the Trades District. 

The budget was increased in the last round after previous bids were higher than what was previously earmarked for the project. 

There's an extended amount of sitework that needs to be done. Individual utilities need to be brought into each building. Also, sidewalks, landscaping, and parking areas need to be added. The average square footage inside each building (600 sq. ft.) will be doubled and sometimes tripled. 

Trades District flag logo - Image from Chelan Douglas Port Authority
Trades District flag logo - Image from Chelan Douglas Port Authority

Grant money for the project includes $5 million from the federal Economic Development Administration, also known as the EDA, $3 million from the Washington State Capital Budget, and $1.12 million from the state Department of Commerce.  

The Port is futher financing the project with a $2.5 million low interest Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) loan. In addition, the Port will spend $1.45 million out of pocket on the project. 

The Trades District will serve as an incubator for startup businesses. It's meant to assist in the growth of underserved, Latino owned or young startup businesses in North Central Washington. 

Tenants in the Trades District will enter into a five-year incubator program, which has certain requirements. For example, a tenant must have a maximum annual business income of $250,000 or less per year and have less than 10 full-time employees. 

The businesses will be housed in buildings ranging from 1,590 square feet to 2,304 square feet.   

Port Director of Economic Development and Capital Projects Stacie de Mestre thinks the project will boost opportunity and job growth in the region.  

"We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone for the Trades District Project," said de Mestre. "This project represents a significant investment in our community and will play a crucial role in driving economic development and job creation in the region." 

Target tenants would include: 

  • Workshop spaces (metal shop/woodworking/cabinet shops etc.) 
  • Specialty trade spaces (HVAC/electrical/plumbing/ contractor shops) 
  • Production shops (bakery/microbrew/wineries) 
  • Limited retail (coffee shop/art studio/food trucks) 

Attending the groundbreaking ceremony on June 13 will be Kuntz, Port Commissioner Mark Spurgeon and Mina Gomez with the Hispanic Business Council.  

Construction of the Trades District is scheduled to be complete by March of next year. 

Also, at the most recent Port Authority board meeting last Friday, Port commissioners awarded a contract of about $230,000 to DOH Associates to serve as the Phase 1 Project Inspector for the project, which is required for federal funding.  

DOH Asociates will be the independent project inspector to confirm the construction is in compliance with plans and specifications and will complete special inspections and materials testing. 

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