The Chelan PUD is taking its first step to redevelop its Fifth Street campus by selling parts of the site to the YMCA and the Music Theatre of Wenatchee.

PUD commissioners voted unanimously for the plan Tuesday, which also includes hiring a broker to market the remaining parcels of the 7.5 acre complex.

Chelan PUD Director of Shared Services Dan Frazier says it's a two-phase plan which is consistent with a community vision for the site. 

"One of the options that was developed in the community visioning process was the ability to have a mixed-use development plan," said Frazier. "Some non-profit use, some for profits, retail, some different things. Because that energy that occurs on a site like this, a 7-acre development doesn't occur if you're myopic in your uses. If you just do one thing, it's really hard to create round the clock, seven day a week activity." 

Having the non-profit YMCA and Music Theatre is seen as providing balance to the site, which could also include for profit businesses. 

Selling parcels to the Y and Music Theatre also brings quick use to the site once the PUD moves away to its new its new headquarters next year. 

Frazier says the plan also establishes anchor businesses on the site, which can provide a reason for other businesses to be drawn in. 

"The YMCA comes with a whole plethora of things you can do around the Y," Frazier said. "People come to the Y to do an activity, and you can have a little restaurant next door. Or just other things, so that you can say, 'Now that we have a theme for the site, it kicks off other uses for the site.’” 

In addition, the plan endorses projects that already have community support in the Y and the Music Theatre. The Y, according to Frazier, has been very successful in its fundraising to date. 

He also said selling some acreage of the site at the beginning of the process could make the project more attractive to local developers, who may more easily be able to handle a 3-acre site rather than 7 acres. 

Frazier said the plan chosen by commissioners will require a significant investment of time by PUD staff members, and will require a sizable investment of money by the utility. Expenses will include site upgrades in the form of demolition, circulation and utilities to enable final development.

The plan chosen by PUD commissioners was one of five options for the Fifth Street campus presented by staff at its Tuesday board meeting. 

The other options were postponing action until market conditions improve, listing the property for sale and allowing the market to drive redevelopment, hiring a real estate broker to market the property to developers, and partnering with other agencies, such as the City of Wenatchee and Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority – to take on full development of the site. 

The city and the Port were part of a previous joint effort to repurpose the PUD campus that was ultimately rejected by the utility. 

That effort, which also involved the Greater Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Wenatchee Association came up with four proposals from prospective redevelopment teams. 

Those proposals were narrowed down to two finalists. After one of the final proposals was withdrawn, the PUD decided to scrap the process altogether in November, and reemerge with a new framework for redeveloping the Fifth Street Campus in three months. 

The staff presentation at Tuesday's board meeting was the culmination of the three month layover. 

The PUD will move into its new headquarters in the Olds Station area of North Wenatchee in 2024, after a number of delays.

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