Apartments may replace Burgerville

Developer submits plans for downtown property

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Vancouver developer Elie Kassab on Wednesday announced he has submitted plans to the city for his newest downtown project, a four-story apartment complex to replace Burgerville’s D Street and Mill Plain Boulevard walk-up restaurant.

Kassab also owns property directly east of the current Burgerville, on the corner of C Street and Mill Plain, where he plans to break ground on a medical office building within the next 12 months.

But first will come Prestige Plaza, the $16 million development that will begin to rise after Burgerville closes its site in October. The rest of the block was formerly occupied by the old Vancouver Police Station, demolished after Kassab purchased the site in 2007. He said his planned two-building, 100-unit project would capitalize on a movement toward urban dwelling, a trend Kassab expects to grow, based on studies he commissioned from Portland-based PGP Valuation, a real estate advisory firm.

“People are moving back into the cities, driving less, living close to where they work and close to mass transit,” he said.

He will transform the city block two blocks west of Interstate 5 into two four-story residential buildings.

“This is a good site because it is right at the entrance and exit to the city; because of its accessibility to mass transit and the freeway,” said Kassab, president and owner of Prestige Development.

A C-Tran bus stop is located on the corner of Mill Plain and C Street and the block is within the area that could be served by a proposed downtown extension of Portland’s light-rail transit system.

Kassab purchased the Burgerville site for $750,000 in December.

“The site is in the middle of the transit overlay district,” Kassab said.

That designation allows for up to 32 percent fewer parking spaces in dense residential projects, said Kassab, who also developed downtown’s City Center 12 theater and the 46-unit Lewis & Clark Plaza apartments at Sixth Street and Broadway.

He expects to provide 68 spaces for Prestige Plaza’s 100 units of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The less stringent parking requirement and a space-saving design that tucks Prestige Plaza’s parking in the center of the two buildings added up to significant project savings, Kassab said.

“It would have cost over $3 million for parking,” he said. “That would have rendered this project not feasible.”

Prestige Plaza’s two buildings will be situated like stair steps on the northward-sloping block. Ground-floor space in the southern-most building will include eight retail, live-work spaces for small business owners. The northern building’s ground floor will be devoted to active retail space fronting Mill Plain Boulevard.

The complex also will include two fitness gyms, a conference room, two sky lounge party rooms, lockable storage compartments and on-site management. Apartment spaces will rent for a range of between $715 and $1,600 per month.

Kassab said he has not yet selected a general contractor to build Prestige Plaza. He estimated the construction and development of the project would generate between 250 and 400 jobs.