Mayor sets sights on downtown expansion

Johnson focused on development, airport runway

BREANNE SEARING, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson gave his state of the city address Tuesday, discussing strategies to renovate downtown, the airport runway realignment project and his plans for a new welcome sign for the city.

Johnson noted the new five-story building downtown called the Evolve on Main. It will offer space for more than 80 apartments and a retail area located on the bottom floor.

Another downtown change he mentioned involved the currently closed and fenced-in Subway, where renovations are taking place and the owner plans to expand into the old barbershop next door.

Johnson and WSU President Kirk Schulz are co-sponsors of the Town-Gown Collaborative, a partnership between the city and the university. They plan to create a group called the “Vibrant Downtown Association” to help usher in the changes coming to Pullman.

“This community has a lot of things going for it,” Johnson said, “and we’re so grateful for all of that.”

Johnson discussed progress on the runway realignment project for the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, and said the city opened bids for asphalt and soil relocation as the final stage of the project.

Members of the project have been working closely with the Mead and Hunt consultant group to assist with the engineering involved in the realignment. Project members hold monthly meetings with the city supervisor and its financier to go over the books.

The realignment is currently a $119-million project, 92 percent of which comes from the federal government. Community members and organizations have filled in the other 8 percent. The cities of Pullman and Moscow contributed $2.5 million each; Edmund O. Schweitzer III and his company, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, both chipped in $1 million each; WSU provided $1 million; and the University of Idaho paid $500,000.

Johnson said the runway will be ready by Oct. 10, 2019.

He said the city plans to work on the terminal of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport next. With new funding, he said, the city could begin that project sooner than previously anticipated.

Johnson said he expected the long-awaited Welcome Way Sign to be up by the second Cougar football game of the season. The sign is planned to say, “welcome” in 60 languages. He said the city has brought in contributions to pay for the sign from the Chamber of Commerce, SEL, WSU International Programs and DABCO Property Management.

“This is a wonderful thing we have in our community,” Johnson said, “to have this kind of diversity.”