Getting back to work

A construction crew works on a building in the Retreat At Pullman development on NE Merman Drive on Monday in Pullman. The project was shut down from March 23 until last Friday, as part of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to allow some construction projects to resume in the state should lead to more projects starting up again in Pullman.

The governor on Friday said work on some existing projects can restart as long as workers follow certain safety guidelines. For example, they must have COVID-19 safety plans, meet social distancing requirements and have adequate personal protective equipment.

Pullman Public Works Director Kevin Gardes said he expects many local projects to be up and running again. The biggest of those construction projects is the completion of The Retreat at Pullman on Merman Drive. The project consists of 187 housing units catered to college students and the permit value was listed by the Pullman Planning Department at $39.1 million in December.

In a statement from Landmark Properties, the developer behind The Retreat at Pullman, the company said delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic means it will now complete construction in phases.

“Thankfully, the first phase is on track to be delivered by the beginning of the fall semester and will allow us to provide housing for all of our current leaseholders, as well as a few additional units that remain available for pre-leasing,” the statement read. “We have communicated this information to our residents, and we are looking forward to welcoming them to their new homes in August.”

Gardes said it is important to the city that these projects continue. Construction is an important industry in Pullman that provides jobs and contributes to the economic vitality of the city, he said.

He also said many of them are scheduled around Washington State University’s academic calendar with the goal of being completed by the fall semester.

Gardes said the city believes the governor’s guidelines provides a nice balance of maintaining safety and giving the construction industry a boost.

WSU was not affected by Inslee’s order in March to halt commercial and residential construction. Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communications, said the university received a waiver to continue its capital projects at each of its campuses in the state.

Most notably in Pullman, workers continued to build the new WSU baseball facility that Weiler said is on schedule to be completed in October.

The Community Action Center’s affordable housing project, Riverview Apartments, is also still on schedule.

Jeff Guyett, executive director of the Community Action Center, wrote in an email that the 56-unit project on Bypass Drive in Pullman is considered an essential project because it will provide housing to low-income residents. Thus, construction was able to continue the past month.

Guyett wrote that July 1 is the scheduled lease start date for the first 21 units. The recreation building and temporary leasing office should be ready by July, as well. The full completion of the Riverview Apartments is planned for mid-November.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com

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