Strategic Partner Spotlight: Port of Camas-Washougal

Waterfront development and construction of a new industrial building are two big projects the port currently has going on

This rendering shows a bird's eye view of the anticipated waterfront development at the Port of Camas-Washougal. Courtesy of Port of Camas-Washougal/RKm Development

2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for the Port of Camas-Washougal.

On Feb. 3, the developer of The Waterfront at Parkers Landing development – RKm Development – gave an update presentation of the Phase 1 layout of the project during the regular Commission Meeting. RKm presented on the general layout of Phase 1, including the public access areas connecting Waterfront Way to the Waterfront Trail, the first four buildings to be constructed and their intended uses.

“Right now, we’re going through the entitlement phase,” said David Ripp, CEO at the Port of Camas-Washougal. “One of the things we’re doing is also a development agreement – an agreement between the developer, the port and the city – that specifies and gives some insurances regarding how the property will be developed. It locks in some zoning codes, fees, etc., to the standards they are today so you can budget and plan on them not changing. We are trying to get a 20-year agreement with the city; the one between the port and the developer is a 15-year agreement.”

The other agreement between the port and the developer that Ripp said they are working on is the Master Lease Agreement, which details the entire 20-plus acres developed by RKm, what they pay for, what the port pays for and lays out how the smaller lease agreements will be set up.

“This is a phased project, so we’re going to have a specific lease for each site, but they will all be controlled by the Master Lease,” Ripp said. “We’re down to the final stretch. A couple of weeks from now we’ll have a meeting with the city to workshop the development agreement, then hopefully two weeks after that there will be a public hearing and approval. Then the Master Lease draft will be presented Feb. 17, there will be a review and discussion, and then again on March 3 for discussion and approval. This will lock in the developer with some assurance that he can start doing some engineering work.”

Ripp said that the goal is to start constructing infrastructure in late summer/early fall of 2022, followed by vertical construction shortly after. The Phase 1 goal includes four different buildings, and Ripp said the cost for Phase 1 is estimated to be at $80 million with all of the buildings and infrastructure.

New industrial building

The other big project that the Port of Camas-Washougal currently has going on is the construction of a new 50,000-square-foot industrial building in the port’s industrial park.

“It’s a great thing, but also a detriment, that we have maintained 100% occupancy (at the port) for the last seven years,” Ripp said. “We don’t have any additional space when we get phone calls. The last industrial building we constructed, ‘Building 18,’ we started construction in August 2017and by the time it was completed in May of 2018, we had everything leased out to seven different companies.”

In October of 2020, it was announced that the Port of Camas-Washougal had been awarded a $3 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant to construct the new industrial building. The port also received some state funding for the project. Ripp said that the grant and the additional funding will allow them to double from a typical 25,000 square-foot building to a 50,000-square-foot one.

“That building project is up and running,” Ripp said. “At a meeting recently the Commission approved the architectural engineering contract (for the project). The goal for construction is summer of 2021, with estimated completion in spring 2022. We’re thinking we will have it completely leased by then.”

Ripp said each bay of the new industrial building will be 3,300 square feet, and there are 15 bays total.

When asked if the Port of Camas-Washougal has been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ripp said that although they have had a couple of tenants affected by it, overall, the port has been very fortunate.

“Staff wise, we’ve been swamped, we’re so busy working on projects,” Ripp said. “Our revenues have been fine; Kim Noah – our COO – has been finishing up on year-end stuff and we had a good net profit again this past year, we stayed within expenses. I don’t foresee any issues – we have high demand for space.”

Ripp did say, however, that the port will again have to cancel the big Fourth of July event they’ve held for the last 12 years. The event was canceled last year due to COVID and will be canceled again this year.

To learn more about the Port of Camas-Washougal and these and other projects the port has going on, visit portcw.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.