New projects aplenty at Columbia Tech Center

Strong regional economy triggers more development and possible new tenants coming in several years

Bechen, Jones, Krueger

Block-by-block, tenant-by-tenant, Oregon-based PacTrust Pacific Realty has been building a mini-city inside the city of Vancouver for the past nearly 30 years.

Now, a strong regional economy is triggering new projects at Columbia Tech Center, its master-planned 480-acre site, east of Southeast 164th Avenue.

“We are seeing interest from existing tenants who need more room, interest from businesses elsewhere in Clark County and from tenants across the river in Portland,” said Andrew Jones, a PacTrust vice president and spokesman. “Our properties are 98 percent leased including nearly all of our office space.”

From the start, Class A office buildings, residential neighborhoods, retail stores as well as a bit of flex-industrial space have been part of the development mix. PacTrust is adding more of the same.

Just completed is construction of a 34,700-square-foot office building near the Banfield Pet Hospital headquarters on Southeast Sixth Way. Pre-leasing is near 100 percent with move-in expected within four months, Jones said.

Work has started on a 4,500-square-foot restaurant building near the 115-room TownePlace Suites Hotel on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard. Jones said Columbia Tech tenants have been asking for a “business breakfast” location.

Construction is under way on a 206-unit apartment project at the Quad at the Park adjacent to Columbia Tech Center Park, which has hosted a series of summer concerts for the past three years. The most recent Curtis Salgado concert attracted several thousand people, Jones said.

The newest apartment project will feature a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units along with pool, fitness center and atrium. Completion is expected in late 2018. To enhance the nearby park, PacTrust is adding a children’s’ nature play area.

Jones declined to say what PacTrust’s dollar investment is in these latest projects, but agreed that the firm has strong backing from its major investors that include the Washington State Investment Board, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System and KKR & Co. (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.), a major New York-based private equity firm.

Diverse tenant mix

Major Columbia Tech Center tenants include the Banfield Pet Hospital headquarters with 206,000 square feet of space, Nautilus Corp., the fitness equipment marketer and manufacturer with 79,000 square feet and Hewlett-Packard Co., which leases 68,000 square feet. Kuni Automotive maintains its corporate headquarters at Columbia Tech Center as well.

A strong market and solid financial backing mean more development and possible new tenants are coming in the next several years.

“Columbia Tech Center and the surrounding corridor continue to be among the areas of fastest growth in Clark County, and all signs point to this trend continuing,” noted Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC).

One of those potential new developments is a proposed 80,000-square-foot office building on Mill Plain and other projects related to technology sector tenants, Jones said.

PacTrust has 71 acres left for development at Columbia Tech Center that includes the purchase of a 52-acre former rock quarry site from Cenex. The property sits between Mill Plain and First Street.

“We would like to continue to react to market demand and optimize the mix of residential, office and retail space,” Jones said. “We want this to be a walkable community offering what people enjoy.”

Jones credited a smooth working relationship with the City of Vancouver for the successful development of Columbia Tech Center over the years.

“The City had been a wonderful partner,” he said. “Being inside the city is just fine.”

Bomar offered a similar response when asked about the Tech Center’s progress.

“Much of the success in this area can be attributed to the vision of private partners such as PacTrust in recognizing the strategic potential of the area and the strong collaboration with public jurisdictions to help support this growth,” he said. “Having a strong development partner such as PacTrust with a proven track record of being willing to work directly with companies to meet their specific needs provides a level of certainty that is invaluable in efforts to attract and retain key employers considering locating at the Columbia Tech Center.”

THE PacTrust PORTFOLIO

Formed in 1972, PacTrust is one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest real estate developers and investment property owners. The firm operates approximately 12.8 million square feet of office, industrial, flex and retail properties in six states including Oregon, Washington, California, Maryland, Illinois and Texas.

Among its Oregon holdings are Orenco Station Town Center, west of Portland, Airport Way Business Park, Clackamas Station and Evergreen Business Park. It has investment interests in Sunriver Resort, Crosswater golf and social club and Caldera Springs resort adjacent to Sunriver. PacTrust owns M&T Chico Ranch, an 8,320-acre working ranch southwest of Chico, Calif. PacTrust maintains a Columbia Tech Center property management office at 1498 SE Tech Center Place, Suite 150.

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