More firms flock to 'gateway' area of I-5, Mill Plain

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
photoLos Altos, Calif.-based corporate owners o Black Angus Steakhouse have renewed the lease on this building in downtown Vancouver, after the company earlier considered a move to Hazel Dell.

(/The Columbian)

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Cascade Title Co. is the latest business to relocate near the Interstate 5 and West Mill Plain Boulevard entrance into downtown Vancouver.

The company moved 18 employees into ground-floor offices in the former Al Angelo Co. headquarters at 404 W. 15th St.

Cascade Title’s relocation is one of a series of moves to the area, as businesses anticipate changes that are likely still years away.

Plans for a new Interstate 5 bridge could raise the Mill Plain exit’s importance as a front door to Vancouver. The Columbia River Crossing project calls for a higher bridge that would pass over southern parts of downtown, possibly doing away with the Sixth Street exit that many cars currently use.

The Al Angelo Co. built its new headquarters building off the I-5 Mill Plain exit, at 400 E. Mill Plain Blvd., and now operates from the fifth floor of that site. Its building has attracted several tenants, among them environmental consulting and engineering firm Maul Foster & Alongi, MetLife Home Loans and a ground-floor branch of Columbia Bank.

Cascade Title had originally planned to move to the site of the Black Angus Steak House, which it had planned to redevelop into a $6 million headquarters.

However, the economic downturn put those 2008 plans on hold, said Kevin Schreiner, a partner in the family-owned title company.

In the meantime, Black Angus, which had been considering a move to Hazel Dell, plans to continue operating at its longtime site at 415 E. 13th St.

The restaurant chain has signed a lease to operate and occupy the site through the beginning of 2013, said Meredith Taylor, president and chief executive officer of the Los Altos, Calif.-based chain.

“We are very committed to the Vancouver market,” she said. “If not in that location, we would certainly look for another nearby location.”

Not far from there, developer Elie Kassab plans to build a 92-unit apartment complex on the site of downtown Vancouver’s Burgerville.

Cascade Title Co. was formerly located in the Bank of America Financial Center at 805 Broadway St., seven blocks south of its new location.

The company is part of a 14-company network of offices in Washington and Oregon that was founded in Yakima in 1909. It is now headquartered in Olympia.

Schreiner said his firm will continue to think about whether it wants to redevelop the Black Angus site.

“We want to be smart about these decisions because the economy is slow,” he said.

The Schreiners are the majority investors in Cascade Title Co. and 13 other title companies in Washington and Oregon, including Vancouver-based Clark County Title Co.

Cascade Title Co. vice president and manager, Scott Hogan, said the company’s Mill Plain location is more convenient, with access to the freeway and new downtown development.

“We see that as the gateway to the city,” Hogan said.