Jerry Sleater was many things. A box boy in Pasco. A grocery store owner in Kennewick. A firefighter and a fire commissioner.
When he died in 2019, he left for his children and grandchildren a sizeable real estate portfolio.
Now, Sleater’s heirs are selling 18 separate parcels totaling 10 acres at the Richland Wye, including the Island View Market that overlooks Bateman Island. The portfolio includes a mix of zoning designations – waterfront, commercial limited business, business and commerce, general business and medium-density residential.
Collectively, they offer an investor or investors a “unique opportunity” to establish a foothold in an up-and-coming area of Richland, said Derrick Stricker of Stricker CRE. He is working with Musser Bros. Auctions to sell the portfolio through an in-person and online auction process.
The parcels include several modest homes and a 3.5-acre commercial site near Ben Franklin Transit.
The Richland Wye is a potential gold mine for its riverfront location in the heart of the Tri-Cities, its proximity to Columbia Center mall and its easy access to Highway 240, Stricker said.
The properties were listed individually on standard commercial platforms such as LoopNet in early February with a series of auctions set for March. The market will determine the price, Stricker said.
Auctioneer Scott Musser pledged a fair and transparent auction process.
“No one is precluded from buying anything. For phase one (the grocery), anyone can buy individual or multiple parcels,” he said.
Musser clarified that even if someone bids on multiple parcels, that does not preclude anyone else from bidding, which has been a point of confusion in the past.
Stricker said he’s rooting for a visionary to step in. The Richland Wye, generally the area that extends from east of Columbia Center Boulevard to Highway 240, along the Yakima River Delta, is undergoing a revival.
The 18 parcels in the Sleater estate could play a big role and leverage another 60 potential deals if neighboring property owners choose to sell.
The area has seen significant investment in recent years as developers recognize the value of the riverfront. The Port of Kennewick established the Spaulding Business Park a decade ago, converting 31 acres into a Class A business park.
Several apartment complexes overlook Bateman Island.
More recently, Richland spent $5 million to upgrade streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure.
Lionell Singleton and Houston Lillard, former Tri-City Fever players, teamed with Broadmark Realty Capital and Elite Construction and Development to build Vertisee Apartments, an upscale project that is now leasing in the 1100 Block of Columbia Park Trail.
John Bookwalter, the Richland winemaker and restaurateur, is converting the former R.F. McDougall’s Irish Pub & Eatery into Fable, a casual family restaurant that will serve as a counterweight to his high-end Fiction restaurant a few miles away.
Rivers Edge Plaza, the former home to Chuck E. Cheese and All-American Gymnastics, is getting an overhaul under new owners and Benton Franklin Transit is constructing a new office building on its campus.
The Sleater Estate could be another domino in a chain reaction that helps the area develop to its highest and best use.
The Sleater story started with Jerry Sleater, who began his grocery career as a box boy at a Pasco Safeway. He graduated from Kennewick High School in 1950 and worked his way up through the company but returned to Kennewick in 1962 and bought Ray’s Grocery – now Island View Grocery – from his father. He retired 20 years later.
Sleater was not just a grocer. He was, in Stricker’s words, a real estate “shark” who bought properties around his store. The estate includes the store itself, which overlooks Bateman Island and its troublesome causeway (See story on page A3), aging homes and commercial sites near Ben Franklin Transit.
Sleater managed the rentals himself. Today, some are unoccupied and are in various states of repair. Stricker said it is unlikely a buyer will purchase them simply to continue running them as rentals.
“A lot of those properties are ripe for what the future is going to be,” he said.