Ridgefield is the fastest-growing city in the state once again.
According to U.S. Census Bureau information put out on Thursday, Ridgefield’s population grew 13 percent between 2016 and 2017, the highest rate of any city in Washington. The city also claimed the fastest-growing crown from 2013 to 2014.
The city’s population increased from 7,041 in 2016 to 7,959 in 2017, according to the Census data. The only other city in the state with double digit percentage growth over that time was Nespelem, which increased 11.8 percent, from 280 residents in 2016 to 313 in 2017.
The Census data also show growth in cities back to 2010, and Ridgefield dwarfs the rest of the state in that time frame. Since 2010, Ridgefield’s population has grown 65 percent, up from 4,824 in 2010. Nespelem once again came in second, increasing its population 34.9 percent since 2010, up from 232 in 2010.
Ridgefield’s growth isn’t showing signs of slowing down, something Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann is well award of.
The district is predicting enrollment will increase 47 percent over the next four years.
“That’s pretty prolific growth,” McCann said. “It’s so staggering.”
The district has just shy of 3,000 students right now, up from roughly 2,100 when McCann joined the district four years ago. To help with the overcrowding, the district is opening a new grade 5-8 campus in the fall; however, it will be near capacity on its first day. The school will hold roughly 1,250 students.
The district is doing expansion work at Ridgefield High School and talking through plans to run a bond for vote in 2019 to build a new elementary school, a new K-4 campus, expansions at the high school level and upgrades at existing elementary schools. Union Ridge Elementary School now has about 915 students, and South Ridge Elementary School houses roughly 800 kids.
“We’re trying to get away from monstrous grade schools,” McCann said.
McCann said this year wasn’t a particularly big one for growth, since there weren’t as many buildable lots available in the city. That’s changing, though, he said.
“More and more lots getting ready to become buildable — that’s what you see from our projections of the four-year, 47 percent increase,” he said.
One future project that could bring a bunch of people into Ridgefield in the coming years is a new apartment complex. Earlier this year, the city council approved plans for a mixed-use development on 40 acres at the southwest corner of the roundabout at Pioneer Street and 45th Avenue. Part of the plans include a 300-unit apartment complex, a new park and a commercial aspect, which is also expected to have additional apartments.
A little more than a year ago, the $510 million ilani casino opened 2 miles from downtown Ridgefield. City officials said earlier this year that the new neighbor is helping to recruit businesses to the city and is thinking of ways to parlay the casino’s proximity into programs to draw people to Ridgefield.
Another recent signal that Ridgefield is growing from its rural, farm-filled origins is the announcement that Rosauers Supermarkets, a chain of grocery stores based in Spokane, is going to open a grocery store on Port of Ridgefield property. While growth has been a contentious issue amongst Ridgefield residents, a grocery store has been a long-desired addition to the city by many residents.
The state’s growth wasn’t just limited to Ridgefield, of course. Seattle was named the country’s fastest growing of the country’s 50 largest cities this decade, increasing its population 18.7 percent since 2010, according to the Seattle Times.