James Howsley, government affairs director for the Building Industry Association of Southwest Washington advises that residential activity is greatest in Camas, Felida and Ridgefield, where houses are beginning to be constructed on existing subdivisions.
Commercial construction, although not as robust as the residential market, is also improving. Mike Bomar, executive director of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association advises that his membership has had a much more positive year in 2012 than in the past few years. Most commercial contractors report available work at least through the spring of 2013. Many of these projects are small, but they provide work for contractors and their subs. Although during the most recent growth period, much retail development to serve our population occurred, there are a few large retail projects in the early planning stages that will primarily serve north Clark County.
Industrial development is the slowest of the three sectors. Existing manufacturers appear to be flush with cash and holding little debt. These companies are choosing to expand and remodel their existing facilities and headquarters rather than acquiring new land for the construction of new facilities. There appear to be two reasons for this: In the current market, it is less expensive to go through the remodeling process and expand an existing facility than it is to buy land and build a new facility. And available land that is ready to build with an available infrastructure remains scarce in Clark County. The Columbia River Economic Development Council’s land for jobs infrastructure initiative is in the early stages of working to expand the community’s inventory of ready to develop infrastructure served industrial land.
Steve Horenstein is the founder of Vancouver-based Horenstein Law Group. His practice focuses on business planning and transactions, real estate transactions, leasing and financials, land-use and growth management planning and government strategies. He can be reached at 360.597.0965.