Long-stalled Walmart Supercenter breaks ground in Orchards

155,000-square-foot store to open late 2015; project features a mix of commercial & industrial space

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The Birtcher Business Center will soon be home to a new Walmart Supercenter. Slated to open for business in the third quarter of 2015, construction on the long awaited 155,000-square-foot store has begun near Fourth Plain and NE 147th Street in East Vancouver’s Orchards Area.

The city of Vancouver has been working for more than a decade to commercialize the site. Walmart has been planning a store there since the company purchased more than 20 acres for $9.9 million in 2004. Though the 203,000-square-foot project has been scaled back and may no longer include a fuel station, the store will include groceries, a bakery, a deli and a drive-thru pharmacy. Additional space will be leased to other commercial tenants.

“The Birtcher Business Center site was a development with the Keller family that started over 10 years ago,” explained Mark Childs, senior vice president of Capacity Commercial Group, a Portland-based commercial real estate firm overseeing the development. “They got it annexed into the city and brought in roadways with utilities and infrastructure.”

The Keller family then sold the property to developer Eastgate LLC, which is where the project hit a roadblock.

“Eastgate went bankrupt very slowly, stalling the project,” said Jim Edwards, spokesman for the Birtcher Business Center, now a co-owner along with the Keller family. “Eastgate was dissolved by the courts and the properties it did not sell to Walmart were slowly foreclosed by two other banks.”

With the bankruptcy proceedings over and industrial permits granted, construction has begun again with next holiday season in sight. The 218-acre location includes two other commercial parcels that are now under separate ownership.

“I think it’s wonderful that Walmart has started construction,” said Edwards. “The roads will be serving the southern portion of the property by next fall.”

Part of the project is an agreement to extend roadway into the surrounding area, which will clear the way for 100 acres of industrial property south of the Walmart Supercenter.

“We’re going to divide it up so it’s five- to 15-acre industrial parcels,” said Childs. “That will bring family-wage jobs from both manufacturing and distribution.”

Though no tenants have signed on to be a part of the Birtcher Business Center and there are no design details publicly available, there will be around a dozen industrial buildings on the site.

Childs believes the new supercenter will bring more consumers into the Orchards Area and that this will be to the economic benefit of everyone.

“It’s great,” he said. “People are going to shop either way and Walmart puts its shopping centers where the transportation systems are designed to support it.”
Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.