Yakima City Council meets to discuss central plaza project - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima City Council meets to discuss central plaza project

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2-6-18 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - Construction of the Yakima Central Plaza is still months away, but the City Council is getting closer to starting the controversial project.

Yesterday, they had a study session on potential bonds. Back in December, the Plaza Committee announced they had reached their $9 million private funding goal. In fact, they raised more than that...but the City of Yakima is on the hook for more than $2 million for the project.

Yesterday, the City Council met to discuss bond options that will be needed to start the construction of the plaza that will replace the large parking lot across the street from the Capitol Theatre. But the City's borrowing options are limited, and during the study session, council members were shown three options. In each, the City is responsible for paying around 20 percent of the project, but the actual amount fluctuates depending on the bond's interest rates.

"For a non-taxable financing mechanism it does restrict some of the options as far as actually maintaining and operating the plaza," said Ana Cortez-Steiner. "On the other hand, if we go with a taxable option we pay more in interest, possibly. But also there are some flexibilities as far as paying principle earlier and (the City does) not have restrictions on how the public venue is managed."

The City Council still has some time to decide which funding option would be best. One of the things they're still waiting on is for a cost estimate from their engineer. That isn't expected to be complete for another week and a half.

But once construction does get going, the plaza could take as long as 18 months to finish.

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12-29-17 ORIGINAL STORY:

YAKIMA, WA - The Yakima Central Plaza project has been called the most transformative enhancement in Downtown Yakima for the next century. Yet, it's also gotten plenty of opposition from some community members. The Plaza, though, got a big boost today.

The Plaza is a $12 million project, but the City is only responsible for paying $3 million. That means the rest - $9 million - had to come through donations...a tough task. Especially when the deadline is on New Year's Eve.

But the generosity of more than 450 individuals, companies, and organizations helped the Yakima Central Plaza Committee reach its goal today.

The Yakima Central Plaza will be in the heart of Downtown Yakima, in the parking lot that's behind restaurants and across the street from the Capitol Theatre on Yakima Avenue.

Haas Hops was one of the businesses who gave money to the project.

The vice president of human resources says it just makes good business sense, not only for the company, but for Yakima.

"By making Yakima a stronger, more vibrant place for our employees and future employees to be at. That is what I told the Board of Directors when we made the decision to make the donation."

The Plaza will be a nearly three-acre civic space for everyday use and large events. It includes an open air market hall, a built-in stage, and children's play areas.

One of the biggest events that could benefit from the new plaza is the extremely popular Fresh Hop Ale Festival.

The final amount of private funding contracts will be presented at the city council meeting on Tuesday.

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