The city of Vancouver that a little more than 20 years ago hadn’t yet seen Fisher’s Landing Fred Meyer is now one of the fastest growing cities, with higher growth than New York City.
Forbes 2018 annual list of America’s fastest-growing cities, based on growth of population, employment, wages and economic output as well as home price growth, lists Vancouver as the 17th in a field of 25 metropolitan areas. Their 2018 projected growth figures for the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro-OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area are as follows: population growth, 1.23 percent; job growth, 2.39 percent; GMP growth, 5.17 percent; wage growth, 7.54 percent; and home price growth, 2.60 percent.
Jacob Schmidt at Visit Vancouver USA stated that in 2017, Clark County’s 8.5 percent increase in spending by tourists outpaced tourist spending in Pierce, King and Spokane counties. Some factors that have contributed to this growth are the sports groups, the proximity to the Portland International Airport and the Portland market, including the convention center, and the new Vancouver Waterfront Project on the Columbia River. New trends in Vancouver include the burgeoning business travelers market, after such big names as Banfield and PeaceHealth located their corporate headquarters in Vancouver. And Home Depot’s new corporate headquarters, to be completed in 2019-2020, will likely be situated off east Mill Plain in the Columbia Tech Center area. Visit Vancouver projects that a growth in proposed new hotels could increase the area’s number of hotel rooms by as much as 32 percent over the next five years.
As a reflection of that growth and the tourism trade, new hotels built on the Vancouver scene have included Hampton Inn & Suites on east Mill Plain, the TownePlace Suites in the Columbia Tech Center area and the Springhill Suites by Marriott off 164th and Southeast 12th. Next year, in 2019, a Best Western Premium Hotel will be completed, near the old Pearson Airport.
And this past year, Dean Kirkland, hotel developer and owner of Kirkland Development LLC, has two new hotels in the area. Candlewood Suites on 192nd, a franchise of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, is geared toward corporate and business travel. It’s an extended stay hotel with four floors and 83 rooms. And with Wafer Tech chip manufacturer and Underwriter’s Lab both now in Camas, and Sharp Microtechnologies also having expanded to Vancouver, the business market is booming.
Kirkland is also currently building a Holiday Inn Express, on 192nd Avenue, for the leisure traveler.
Another new trend in Vancouver hotel/tourism is that the city is no longer just the overflow for Portland, situated just across the Columbia River. Vancouver is doing well enough on its own.
“Now is the time to put our stamp on things,” said Kirkland, who is also a lifelong resident of Vancouver.
The Vancouver Waterfront Project stands as a testament to that trend.
“The waterfront development is one of the greatest things to happen to Vancouver in a long time,” said Michael McLeod, the general manager of Hilton Hotel in downtown Vancouver.
To welcome the increasing tourist traffic in the downtown area, the Hilton completed building an outdoor patio just this past Friday, an addition to their Grey’s restaurant. With firepits and relaxed outdoor seating, it overlooks Vancouver’s lovely Esther Short Park.
As part of the new Columbia River waterfront project, Kirkland will be building the Hotel Indigo, which will open spring/summer 2020 with 138 rooms, a second-floor balcony ballroom space and an eighth-floor rooftop bar. Alongside will be Kirkland Tower Condominiums offering 40 condos.
Hotel Indigo is completely different from the other two types of hotels, which are weekend based or extended stay. Hotel Indigo is the five-star hotel experience. It is a boutique hotel – each hotel is a community story, “based on where it is, and the story about the community. That story is incorporated into the design, food–the whole experience,” said Dana Gardner, project manager of Kirkland Development LLC.
“Being on the water, the opulence of that sets us apart from all the other hotels,” Kirkland said. “Especially with the eateries, the shops and the park.”
“When this (the waterfront development) opens, it’s going to be a smashing success,” Kirkland added.
President and CEO of Visit Vancouver USA Kim Bennett had this to say about these new trends: “Vancouver USA has witnessed rapid growth in visitor spending in the past five years. While we are confident this growth will continue, it is important we continue to generate new demand in order to fill the new hotel rooms coming online. The Vancouver Waterfront will help with that need, serving as a lure for potential visitors to the area. Already, we have experienced strong interest from visitors eager to explore the new waterfront park, Grant Street Pier and the surrounding restaurants. Undoubtedly, Vancouver’s central location in the Northwest – coupled with its mix of urban amenities and outdoor opportunities – makes it the ideal place for weekend getaways, business travel, convention groups and association meetings.”