More than $11 million in financing has been secured for The Commons at Innovation Center

By Laura Kostad

Less than a year since construction wrapped up on The Commons at Innovation Center apartments in north Richland, $11.3 million in permanent financing has been secured as the complex closes in on full occupancy.

Located in the Tri-Cities Research District across the street from The Lofts apartments, the 95,102-square-foot, 150-unit Commons complex, completed in 2015, is not only among the newest additions to the Tri-City apartment inventory, but also the area’s northernmost apartment option.

“The Commons is a very high-quality property in a market where highly educated, professional tenants working at Hanford and in the research district have increased the demand for high quality housing,”

said David Stinebaugh, senior vice president of CBRE Group’s Seattle office in a news release. CBRE, which arranged the financing, is a commercial real estate services and investment firm based in Los Angeles.

The 160-unit Lofts were built and completed by the same developer in 2013 and are overseen by the same property management company, Prodigy Property Management. Portland, Oregon based TVA Architects designed both The Commons and The Lofts.

Both have been well received by those looking for affordable, high-quality apartment housing near major Tri-City employers in north Richland, according to Prodigy management.

“We just finished leasing up,” said Serena Kendall, property manager at The Commons. “We have only seven apartments left to rent.”

Similar to the permanent financing secured in 2015 for The Lofts, CBRE recently secured permanent financing for the $18.5 million Commons project in the form of a long-term, fixed-rate loan, financed by Freddie Mac’s lease-up refinancing program.

This form of financing enabled The Commons to lock in the interest rate and fund the loan before the property is fully stabilized.

The Commons, at 2894 Salk Ave., is comprised of four three-story residential buildings offering studio, one- and two-bedroom units averaging 634 square feet. The complex features a clubhouse/leasing office, fitness facility and an outdoor patio with swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor gas fireplace and grill area.

Units have keyless entries, black appliance packages, granite countertops, vinyl flooring, central heating and air, and nine-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize light and evoke a sense of spaciousness.

Two soccer fields and a dog park to support the dog-friendly complexes are open to the Tri-City community and were built to create a more residential feel in the commercial area.

Kathy Espinda, vice president of Prodigy Property Management for the Tri-Cities/Central Washington region, said the development of residential neighborhoods and apartment housing options in north Richland are a part of a greater effort to incorporate the research district into the greater Richland and Tri-City communities.

“It’s mainly people from the Tri-Cities Research District, PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and Hanford … the complex is 90 percent Hanford driven,” Espinda said.

Many residents work for Hanford site contractors, some of which are here only on short-term contracts for specific projects. Though most live alone, Espinda said there are some couples and small families who live at The Commons.

With more than 10,000 employed by companies supporting the Hanford project, commutes can be long by Tri-City standards.

Espinda said Commons residents are able to enjoy more of their off-work hours that would otherwise have been spent sitting in traffic to get home. She also said many residents bike to work.

The complex isn’t limited to Hanford workers. With Washington State University Tri-Cities’ campus, Wine Science Center and businesses close by, the complex’s occupants are diverse.

SaVina Wooden, a local makeup artist who splits her time between the Tri-Cities and Seattle, moved to The Commons with her dog in March 2017 from Las Vegas.

“I was like the third person to move in,” she said. “A lot of people filled up the apartments fast. It’s probably the best in the Tri-Cities, and I did my research.”

Other aspects that convinced Wooden she made the right choice are the sense of security she feels, high level of cleanliness and proactive nature of the management staff.

“You really can’t beat this,” she said. “Newly renovated, quiet secluded area, two bedrooms, and a washer and dryer for $1,100 per month, and that includes electric and pet rent.”

The Commons offers a party or event each quarter like breakfast-on-the-go or taco Tuesday, Kendall said. “We’re also planning to have a food truck night. It helps people to get to know their neighbors,” said Kendall, who worked in apartment management for five years at other Richland complexes before coming to The Commons.

As for future projects, there had been rumblings of another complex focused on studio suites soon to join The Lofts and The Commons, but Jennifer Ross, vice president of finance at Shotgun Creek Investments, said,

“We were looking into this opportunity, but it isn’t on the current scope of future developments.”

According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, occupancy in the Tri-City market area has averaged 97.4 percent since March 2014, and rent growth has remained positive, despite construction of a significant number of similar properties.