Business park along Highway 12 inches ahead

The Port of Walla Walla is in the early phases of planning a development near where the Snake and Columbia rivers meet.

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Plans to develop a new business park in Burbank are well on their way. Port of Walla Walla executives met Thursday to discuss the new development, among other topics.

The Burbank Business Park Conceptual Master Plan shows the potential location as a stretch of 30 small lots that run along U.S. Highway 12 just before the Snake and Columbia rivers meet. These lots will be sold to businesses to create a cluster of stores, professional offices and potentially living spaces.

Two potential layout plans were discussed at the meeting. Concept A had a more traditional "strip-mall" feel, with a central road dividing storefronts and expansive parking lots. Concept B was designed to feel like a "downtown"; the stores were more closer together, with a plaza-like alcove offshoot.

The group almost unanimously preferred Concept B and made plans to move forward with this design. Port of Walla Walla Executive Director Jim Kuntz cited "a sense of place" and "a sense of community" as the attractive qualities of the design.

Though the businesses that will occupy the park have yet to be determined, there was talk about the inclusion of a national chain such as Starbucks or Home Depot to draw traffic from the highway.

While the Burbank Business Park plans are moving along, there is still much to be done before construction begins. In addition to planning water connections and drainage, a new road must be built by the state. Kuntz and company plan to work with the state to give the road a "boulevard feel," with greenery and sidewalks.

The projected completion of the park is currently set 18 months to two years from now.

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