Cranes are sprouting up around Clark County like the economic development version of Christmas trees – and indications are good that Santa may bring the region an even bigger construction boom than is already underway.
With the Downtown Waterfront Development Project leading the charge, new hotel, housing and other projects are also on the rise, looking to capitalize on the area’s projected tourism and quality of life impacts. Barry Cain, president of Gramor Development, which is spearheading the Waterfront development, said the likely demise of the Port of Vancouver oil terminal will also help that growth continue.
“There’s a huge pent-up demand for Downtown Vancouver,” Cain said. “People are going to be really surprised at the depth of the market. It’s such a great spot. It’s a shame we got hung up on the oil terminal. But this is great. It feels like the cloud has been lifted.”
Cain estimates the downtown area needs about 5,000 more condos or other multi-family housing units right now, and that need is likely to grow.
New hotel and housing developments are also on the rise across town, said Jason Nortz, the city of Vancouver’s Development Review Division manager.
“We’re seeing a lot of positive development come through the city,” Nortz said. “This is what we need in this day and age.”
The main spur for the new wave of construction starts with the $1.5 billion Waterfront Project, which will add two new hotels, condos, a host of restaurants, a stay cable pier, walkways and parks to Vancouver’s waterfront. The first restaurants are set to open in July 2018, with much of the rest of the offerings opening by Sept. 30, 2018, Cain said.
“We actually have 1,800 people already lined up to buy condos,” Cain said.
The first two main buildings, a two-story facility anchored by WildFin American Grill on Block 9 and another two-story facility anchored by Twigs Bistro and Mini Bar and Ghost Runners Brewery on Block 12 are nearly complete, with other parts of the project in various stages, Nortz said.
Workers also recently brought in two new cranes for work on Block 8 and Block 6 at the site.
Block 8 will house a seven-story 250-apartment complex with 23,000-square-feet of ground floor retail and underground parking. Block 6 will house a seven-story office building with ground floor retail and underground parking tied to the underground parking in Block 8.
But even with that parking, some concerns about meeting the demand for spaces remain, Nortz said.
“Some of the vacant lots that we haven’t received permits for will be used as temporary parking until the full parking situation is worked out,” Nortz said.
There’s also a significant amount of hotel development going on in other parts of Clark County.
At the Waterfront, construction should soon begin on the 138-room Hotel Indigo designated for Block 4, and the Port of Vancouver also recently signed a deal with Vesta Hospitality to build a new hotel on the site of the old Red Lion at the Quay.
Across town, Best Western Premier is building a 132-unit, 78,000-square-foot hotel at 1500 SE 167th St., Residence Inn is building an 87-unit, 64,000-square-foot hotel at 411 SE 123rd St., and Holiday Inn is building an 82-unit, 50,000-square-foot hotel at 1805 SE 192nd St.
That indicates demand for hotel space overall is growing quickly, Nortz said.
“I’ve worked in other cities with growing economies and we also saw lots of hotels coming in,” Nortz said. “That’s a good sign. They don’t build those without a reason.”
There’s also a slew of new multi-family housing units under construction across the city, Nortz said.
The larger of those projects include: The Uptown on upper Main Street, with 167 units; The Landing at 100 SE Olympia, with 154 units; K West Apartments at 5500 NE 4th Plain, with 192 units; Parkside at 17775 SE Mill Plain, with 206 units; Trio Pointe at 19600 NE 3rd St., with 206 units; and Creekside Meadows at 2911 NE 68th St., with 126 units.
Overall, with those and some smaller projects, there are a total of 1,564 multi-family housing units under construction right now, he added.
Multi-family housing construction in general has been on the rise since about 2015, and there’s no sign it’s going to slow down anytime soon, Nortz said.
“It’s definitely above normal as far as a trend over the past few years,” he said.
Another big project is the three-story, 45,000-square-foot Home Depot Quote Center being built at The Quad Industrial Site at Columbia Shores and 5th St., which economic developers hope to turn into a thriving technology center.
“That will set the tone for a lot of other projects as that technology center grows,” Nortz said.
Cain said he’s excited to watch the development boom grow and new offerings appear.
“With everything the city has done and all the work in progress – this is just an amazing place to be,” Cain said.