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Author: Alan R. Hughes, RG, LG, PG Published: September 22, 2016
Blogs, Engineering, Press Releases

Tomorrow the Port of Camas-Washougal will celebrate the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail. MFA is excited to see this project completed, which began with an Integrated Planning Grant that MFA assisted the Port in receiving from the Washington State Department of Ecology. This project was a great combination of public and private entities, working with Ecology to help a community develop a brownfield and establish public access to the Columbia River waterfront.

We hope to see you there to celebrate this monumental accomplishment! Click on the link to find out all the details of the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting.

By Aaron Corvin, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 18–If they wait a while, carefully pick the right strategy and if they hit the right market conditions, the Port of Camas-Washougal and a private developer may be able to transform 40 acres of waterfront property into a profitable destination point that draws visitors from the Portland-Vancouver region.

But that option carries problems of timing and risk. There are other, safer alternatives that could lead to the parcel’s redevelopment sooner, spurring new jobs and tax revenues.

Those assessments are just some of the major takeaways from a 63-page market analysis that was delivered to port commissioners Tuesday evening by Eric Hovee, principal of E.D. Hovee & Company LLC, based in Vancouver.

A decision on what direction the port should take with the property isn’t expected anytime soon.

“There’s no rush to judgment here,” port Commissioner Mark Lampton said as officials discussed the market feasibility study during Tuesday’s public hearing.

Hovee’s analysis focuses on the redevelopment potential of a 40-acre waterfront site that’s 1.5 miles west of Washougal’s downtown and bounded by Highway 14 and the Columbia River. The analysis, which spells out the advantages and disadvantages of various building scenarios, is intended to help the port and its partner — Killian Pacific, the Vancouver commercial real estate developer — achieve both public and private development goals for the site.

The port owns about 67 percent of the waterfront parcel while Killian Pacific owns 33 percent of the site through its affiliate, Parkers Landing LLC. As port officials discuss the site’s long-term development potential, they’re moving to accomplish other related tasks.

This week, for example, the port plans to formally request bids from companies on conducting environmental cleanup work at the site, a portion of which once housed a lumber mill.

The state Department of Ecology is picking up 90 percent of the $860,000 cost of cleaning up the site, said David Ripp, the port’s executive director. The port will use liability insurance funds it recovered to pay for the rest of the tab. The cleanup work is expected to be finished by mid-October.

The port also is seeking state grant funding to help pay for a new park and trail as part of the larger waterfront project.

‘A tough one’

One redevelopment idea is to sculpt the waterfront site into a “multi-use destination development,” a regional attraction featuring such uses as a resort or recreational water park or specialty retail outlet mall. If successful, such a project could create a visitor “gateway to (the Columbia River) Gorge scenic area,” according to Hovee’s analysis, with potential high spending and tax benefits. However, such a scenario requires an “experienced private operator or public financial support” and “may wait years for (a) qualified project to materialize.”

Another option would involve co-mingling a destination project with a lower-risk mixed-use development, which would allow building on half the site to proceed more quickly. However, Hovee’s report recommends no further consideration of either of those destination-oriented options, in part because “without an existing private commitment, land can be more productively used for community retail or mixed use.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Hovee said it was possible to transform the site into a destination point but they’d have to define a vision, and find a company that not only agrees with that vision but can make a profit building it out.

Commissioners grappled with the destination scenarios.

Lampton said the waterfront site is a “jewel,” but that the question of how you make it into an attraction is “a tough one.” Most people in the area travel west, not east, to shop or to reach places, he said.

Commissioner Bill Ward said he doesn’t necessarily agree with that view. The waterfront site is unique, Ward said, as opposed to the standard commercial development you find along such corridors as 192nd Avenue in Camas and east Vancouver.

‘High amenity’

According to Hovee’s analysis, two other options — “community commercial center” and “commercial retail/office and residential mixed-use” — are feasible and merit more detailed evaluations.

The “community commercial center” scenario would include up to 350,000 square feet of commercial space, mostly for retail/service uses but with room for build-to-suit office space. It would create 720 jobs at full build-out, and generate $4.6 million in one-time state and local sales taxes, as well as $6.6 million in annual sales and property taxes.

That option “misses (a) major opportunity for waterfront living but avoids (the) risk of overshooting a not yet tested market,” according to Hovee’s analysis.

Under the “commercial retail/office and residential mixed-use” option, the site would become an urban village, with about half of the property developed for retail and office purposes and the other half for apartments and townhomes. It would feature about 175,000 square feet of commercial development, 370 “high amenity” condos/apartments and 115 townhomes.

That option “diversifies (the) housing mix,” the analysis says, “with new multifamily plus townhome options (and) multi-year project build-out.”


(c)2014 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

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The Columbian

Published on March 16, 2014 12:01AM

Port of C-W, city, PSU students team on plan to link parcel, downtown

The Port of Camas-Washougal’s plan to transform 40 acres of waterfront property into a pleasant mix of recreational amenities and residential, commercial and office buildings is no rush job.

On the contrary, since beginning to work on the project in earnest in the summer of 2011, the port has gathered extensive public input on what the former industrial site should look and feel like. It has teamed up with several partners — including the city of Washougal and a Vancouver-based commercial real estate developer — in hopes of eventually breaking ground on a project. A market study, a draft of which is due for review by the end of this month, is expected to show potential development scenarios. And the port, meanwhile, aims to secure state funding for a new park and trail.

Now, public planning for the site is entering a new phase with an ambitious mission: to ensure that redevelopment of the waterfront property doesn’t occur in isolation, that the site — about 1.7 miles away from Washougal’s downtown — complements and connects to that city’s core instead of subtracting from it.

To that end, the port has teamed up with the city of Washougal and Portland State University to generate a community vision for the waterfront parcel that not only augments the city’s downtown but also creates a local and regional identity for Washougal. The planning effort is led by a team of students from PSU’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program.

Suffice it to say, it’s no small effort. The agreement signed by PSU, the port and the city outlines the problem to be overcome and the opportunity to be seized: “The waterfront is disconnected and detached from downtown Washougal and there are concerns that redevelopment will detract from downtown. There is existing momentum towards developing a strong community identity and vision.”

The project will unfold over several months, involving community events, surveys, opportunities for public input and progress reports. It’s expected to culminate in early June with a final community vision plan that will guide development of the waterfront site and, according to the project’s work plan, “lead to a more connected, accessible and vibrant Washougal.”

Victor Caesar, communications coordinator for the PSU team, said the group wants “to be visionary and inspire the community” but to do so in way that’s based on research and evidence. “In short,” he said in an email to The Columbian last week, “our hopes and dreams for the final product are something that is a clear recognition and integration of what the community wants to see on the site while also grounding it with real life, tangible recommendations that the port and city can use moving forward.”

&Fresh set of eyes’

The port and city are providing the PSU team with a budget of up to $5,000 (the port is kicking in $3,500, the city, $1,500) for materials, supplies, meeting space, travel and other costs associated with the project, dubbed “Washougal Waterfront: A Community Connected.”

The port and the city will provide the PSU team with relevant information, including past public input efforts, strategic plans, market analyses, maps and neighborhood data.

The PSU team, operating under the name Convergence Community Planning, will tackle an array of responsibilities. Those include:

n Researching and producing an “existing conditions” report that will include a summary of Washougal’s current physical, social, cultural and economic conditions, as well as planning efforts by both the city and the port. The idea is to identify the challenges and opportunities of the waterfront site and the community.

n Producing a case study and best practices report pinpointing successful recreational trail and waterfront redevelopment projects in small towns.

n Designing and carrying out a “stakeholder engagement process,” including reviewing and analyzing feedback from past public-input processes, planning and leading engagement events and activities — and integrating all of the community feedback into the final product.

n Producing a community vision plan, which integrates existing conditions, case studies and public input.

The project’s work plan establishes numerous potential stakeholders. They include: Killian Pacific, the commercial real estate and investment company that is partnering with the port to redevelop the waterfront parcel; Washougal-based Lone Wolf Development Corp., which has publicly voiced skepticism that the waterfront plan would align with Washougal’s downtown projects, including ones built by Lone Wolf; the U.S. National Park Service; Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee; Friends of the Columbia Gorge; the Columbia River Economic Development Council; city of Camas; the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association; and local businesses and neighborhood associations.

Tapping PSU to engage the community so comprehensively — and in ways the port and city haven’t necessarily contemplated — will help draw people into the planning process who might not otherwise feel their input counts, according to Mitch Kneipp, Washougal’s community development director.

It’s also about putting “a fresh set of eyes” on the waterfront project and how it relates to Washougal’s downtown development activity, Kneipp said. There “could be something that none of us have seen before,” he added. “Only time will really tell.”

A thoughtful approach

The work of the PSU students to link the waterfront project’s future to that of downtown Washougal’s is part of a larger effort by east Clark County government and business leaders to encourage thoughtful economic development.

An important piece of that effort came in July 2011, when the Port of Camas-Washougal secured a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Ecology to accomplish several tasks, including crafting a plan to clean up contaminants at the waterfront parcel — the site of the former Hambleton sawmill — producing strategies for redeveloping the site, restoring natural habitat in the area and providing public access to the waterfront.

Since then, the port has collected plenty of public input, including by way of community meetings and surveys. At one public workshop, for example, area residents said they didn’t want big-box stores at the waterfront site. They also said they wanted to see the property become a destination point woven into the existing downtowns, streetscapes and trails of Washougal and Camas.

In November 2012, the port purchased about 13 acres of the 26-acre former Hambleton parcel from Killian Pacific. That $6 million acquisition added to the 14 acres the port already owns immediately east of the former lumber mill site. Killian Pacific retained the other 13-acre half of the former mill parcel.

Together, the company and the port hope to redevelop the entire 40-acre waterfront site into a place to live, work, play.

As part of that overall plan, the port wants to build a waterfront trail and park. Both projects would cost an estimated $2 million. The port has budgeted $1 million toward completing them. It hopes to secure another $1 million from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

If all goes as planned, construction of the park and trail could be underway by summer 2015. The new waterfront trail could one day connect Marina Park to the Washougal levee and points east. The proposed 3.44-acre park would be built next to and south of the waterfront trail.

Meanwhile, the board of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development

Association is expected on March 27 to review a draft market analysis of the waterfront site’s potential development alternatives. Paul Dennis, president and CEO of CWEDA, said the analysis will turn up “different use options” and speak to “what is feasible from a market standpoint.”

That analysis will help inform the PSU students’ work, Dennis said.

Dennis said he doesn’t think rejuvenating the waterfront property will make it a direct competitor to either Washougal’s or Camas’ downtown business districts. Each site has its own opportunities and challenges, he said. At 40 acres, the waterfront site has “limited acreage,” Dennis added. “You can chew that up pretty quick.”

Downtown Camas has “a number of well-established medium to upper-income neighborhoods surrounding it,” Dennis said. “It’s tight-knit.” By contrast, Washougal’s downtown — while it has seen several new tenants move into newly constructed buildings along Main Street — would benefit from more people living near the core, Dennis said.

At some point, he added, you need a “housing strategy that begins to develop a more localized consumer base for those businesses.”

Although the PSU team’s effort focuses on linking the waterfront site to Washougal’s downtown, said David Ripp, executive director of the Port of Camas-Washougal, Camas will be heard, too.

“We’ll touch upon that,” he said, “and have Camas tied in as well.”

Aaron Corvin:;; 360-735-4518;