Development continues at Port of Camas-Washougal

The Port recently announced its lead waterfront developer – RKm Development

Port of Camas-Washougal
This rough rendering shows what the Waterfront at Parkers Landing will potentially look like after construction on the project is completed. The Port of Camas-Washougal recently announced that it has chosen RKm Development as the lead developer for the project. Courtesy of Port of Camas-Washougal

The Port of Camas-Washougal had two pretty big announcements recently – that it has chosen RKm Development out of Portland as the lead developer for the Waterfront at Parkers Landing project, and that the Natural Play Area at Washougal Waterfront Park will have a grand opening on Wednesday, June 7.

“My goal personally would be we’re sticking a shovel in the ground in 24 months and hopefully starting a project,” said David Ripp, CEO of the Port of Camas-Washougal.

According to a news release from the Port, RKm Development’s vision for the Waterfront includes harmonizing, multi-use area for dining, shopping, errands, family fun and inter-generational entertainment, all next door to “beautifully designed residences with amazing waterfront views of the river and scenic Gorge.”

“Roy Kim and his team have developed a variety of dense, livable, mixed-use suburban districts,” Ripp said in the news release. “While the demographics for his signature projects are different, the approach is the same: Create a centralized community with diversity in mind.”

According to the news release, the next steps for the Waterfront project include negotiating an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA), which is an agreement between the Port and the developer specifying a period of time in which the parties will negotiate exclusively on a development project. The ENA binds both parties from making any similar deals with other parties for a specified period. It shows the Developer has represented its willingness and ability to undertake certain studies, plans and other activities necessary to define the scope of a development and determine the feasibility of such development on a particular site. The Agreement will serve as the basis for entering into a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA).

Ripp said that development of the Waterfront is something that the Port has been working on for quite some time. The history of the project is interesting – the site was originally a lumber mill for more than 50 years until it closed down in 2010. At the time, the Port didn’t have the financial resources to purchase all of the acreage, but in 2011 they were able to secure a $200,000 Integrated Planning Grant (IPG) to evaluate the environmental condition of the waterfront property.

During that time, Ripp said they also held their first community open house on the project in order to receive input in regards to what the highest and best use of the property might be. He said the responses were overwhelmingly focused on the need for it to be commercial.

“We had three open houses laying out and envisioning the site,” Ripp said. “We decided it was going to be highly commercial, mixed use with restaurants, a hotel, a corporate office center … but also a development that we wanted to make sure the public has access to.”

In 2010, Killian Pacific purchased the entire 27-acre parcel, and the Port then acquired 13.25 acres of the Waterfront portion of the property from Killian. The goal was to bring the Waterfront property to a higher and better use for the community to access.

In addition to the commercial part of the Waterfront development, the Waterfront park and trail along the shoreline of the Waterfront property are also important aspects of the project as well. In 2015, the Port was awarded $1.7 million in grant funding from the Recreation and Conservation Office for the construction of the new park and trail. Construction began in early 2016, with Tapani, Inc. as the contractor. The grand opening of the Washougal Waterfront Park & Trail was in October 2016; the city of Washougal will complete Phase 2 of the trail in 2019.

The Natural Play Area, part of the Washougal Waterfront Park & Trail, has been under construction for much of this year. The Port just recently announced that the grand opening of the play area is set for Friday, June 7, at 3:30 p.m. “Eegah,” the local nine-foot-tall Sasquatch, will debut in the play area as a vibrant piece of artwork that children can play on and interact with. The play area will also be ADA accessible and will include a six-foot hill slide, log scramble, xylophone area and more.

Industrial Park

Along with the development going on at the Waterfront, the Port of Camas-Washougal also continues to focus on its Industrial Park.

“We just finished (constructing) the last building in May 2018,” Ripp said. “It’s a 50,000-square-foot building. We took in a $2.85 million EDA grant and received money through a state program; we did a loan interest loan for $1.7 million then received a $300,000 grant on top of that. This is a $6.2 million building and the Port only spent $1.1 million.”

Originally, Ripp said they budgeted for the building to be 25,000 square feet, but said that if they received the grant they applied for, then they would double it.

“We’ve been bursting at the seams,” Ripp said. “Every time we got a call from a potential tenant, we didn’t have space.”

Ripp said construction began on the 50,000-square-foot building in July/August of 2017, and by the time it was completed in May 2018, it was already completely leased out to six different companies.

“This is our fifth straight year of 100 percent occupancy (in the Industrial Park),” Ripp said.

In its entirety, the Industrial Park is 300 acres and is home to more than 40 businesses.

To learn more about the Waterfront at Parkers Landing, visit http://www.parkerslandingwaterfront.com/.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.