Longview on Friday received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to pave Beech Street — a project the city says is expected to open up about 48 acres for development, create 200 family-wage jobs and attract $111 million in private investment.
City Manager Kurt Sacha hinted during the Longview City Council meeting Thursday night that the city would likely receive the award, but it wasn’t officially announced until Friday.
“For Longview, this is probably the most significant project we will have since the redevelopment of the Triangle Mall. I think it means that much to our community in terms of the opportunities there,” Sacha said Friday.
Also during Thursday’s council meeting, the city said it received a three-year $500,000 grant from the Department of Justice for an additional detective and a victims’ advocate, as well as a $50,000 grant for additional accessibility improvements throughout the city.
“We’ve said for about 20 years that one day, hopefully, our time will come. Maybe it’s come,” Sacha said about the three major grants. “I think there is more and more evidence of it every day.”
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Efforts to pave the unfinished part of the Beech Street right of way between Oregon and California ways began two years ago with a proposal from the Sari family, which owns nearby undeveloped property, to create a local improvement district (LID). The LID, approved last summer, initially would have meant that nearby property owners would shoulder about $3.7 million of the $4.4 million project. (Property owners representing about 73% of the land in the area approved the LID.)
However, since then, the city has received a $1 million award from the state Legislature, along with $575,000 in rural economic development funds from the county and a $75,000 private contribution.
That brings the property owners’ burden down to between $400,000 and $600,000, Sacha said.
The project is about 75% designed, Sacha said, and is expected to go to bid and be ready for construction by early next year.
In addition to the economic development possibilities, paving Beech Street could alleviate traffic along Industrial Way, Sacha said.
Sacha thanked U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for their advocacy on behalf of the project.
In a press release, Herrera Beutler, a Battle Ground Republican, said the Economic Development Administration grants are intended to spur development in economically distressed communities like Longview by giving tax incentives to investors.
“Nearly two years ago, I helped usher the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law because of its potential to strengthen Southwest Washington’s economy and infrastructure,” Herrera Beutler said in the release. “I had communities like Longview in mind when I helped champion the Opportunity Zones that this law created, because they bring additional employment to a community that certainly wants more jobs. I welcome the announcement of these funds coming to Cowlitz County and commend the City of Longview for successfully taking advantage of this opportunity put forth by Congress.”
“Beech Street represents a shining example of the private sector and government at all levels working creatively together to bring jobs, investment and an improved quality of life to our community,” Longview Mayor Don Jensen said in the release. “On behalf of the citizens of Longview, I offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Senator Murray and Congresswoman Herrera Beutler for bringing this meaningful economic development project to fruition.”
The land is zoned for light industrial and commercial.
Also during Thursday’s Longview City Council meeting, the council:
- Heard concerns and support for a planned severe weather shelter located in First Christian Church at 2000 East Kessler Blvd (see related story).
- Supported a plan to adjust parking along the 1100 block of 12th Avenue to add another driving lane.
- Supported the draft Comprehensive Plan update, which will come back for final approval at a later meeting.
- Approved a $411,300 contract with Halme Excavating Inc. of Battle Ground to construct pedestrian improvements on Seventh Avenue and Delaware Street.
- Approved a $773,000 contract with Northeast Electric LLC of Woodland to install pedestrian crossing improvements along Washington Way and 15th Avenue.
- Set a public hearing on Nov. 7 to discuss proposed revenue sources for the 2019 General Fund.
- Approved the 2020 operating budget for the Southwest Washington Regional Airport.
“For Longview, this is probably the most significant project we will have since the redevelopment of the Triangle Mall.” Kurt Sacha Longview City Manager
"For Longview, this is probably the most significant project we will have since the redevelopment of the Triangle Mall." — Longview City Manager Kurt Sacha