The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is bidding adieu to its regional headquarters in Vancouver next week. Beginning Monday, July 3, the department will operate out of a recently completed $8 million facility in Ridgefield.
The new facility, built and owned by the Port of Ridgefield, is approximately 31,000 square feet in size and includes office space for 110 professionals, two public meeting rooms and a fish lab. It also features 10,000 square feet of warehouse space for equipment storage and 8,000 square feet of covered storage for outdoor vehicles and equipment.
John Long, director of regional operations for the Washington DFW in Region 5 (Southwest Washington), said that more than 100 employees will work out of the new space, not including a small contingent of staff from the Army Corps of Engineers that will be stationed there.
“We’re really excited about the move,” said Long. “We’ve been in this current (Vancouver) location for about 20 years and have outgrown it. The new facility is more suited to meet our needs. We also think it’s more centrally located in the region so we can provide services throughout the six counties we serve. A lot of our fieldwork is north out of this [Vancouver] office, so it’s an advantage for us to be located near Exit 14.
“The facilities like the garage for storing boats and outside covered storage for field equipment is going to be a big upgrade from our current location,” he added. “Parking is another one of the big benefits … it should be easier access for the public to come in and do business.”
DFW signed a ten-year lease with the Port of Ridgefield in June of last year, clearing the way for the facility’s construction. The project was delivered on time and under budget – something that would not have been possible without the “speed and support” from the City of Ridgefield, the port said.
Located at 5525 S. 11th Street, the new facility is the first building in an area the port refers to as Wisdom Ridge – a 7.5-acre development in the heart of the Discovery Corridor that’s zoned for light industrial use.
“The Washington DFW development will be attractive to other developers and retailers who want to capitalize on the proximity to 100-plus new employees,” commented Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening, when the project was first announced. “The project also showcases Ridgefield as a growing employment hub.”
When asked about working with the Port of Ridgefield, Long said Fish & Wildlife had a positive experience.
“It was a really good partnership and they (the port) are excited to have us in the Ridgefield community and we’re excited,” he said. “It has been a positive relationship and partnership with the port.”
Once the move is complete, DFW will close its current office, located at 2108 Grand Boulevard. That property, which is owned by Watumull Properties, may not sit vacant for long.
According to a document from the City Center Redevelopment Authority (City of Vancouver), BFIT Gyms, a California-based franchise described as a “new gym concept with a flexible operating model,” has shown interest in constructing a 25,000-square-foot fitness facility at the site.
Watumull and BFIT Gyms did not respond to requests for comment at press time.