Plan to improve downtown building may displace shops

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Property developer Ryan Hurley has purchased adjoining buildings at 806 and 808 Main Street in downtown Vancouver with an eye toward a renovation that will include ground-floor commercial space and second-floor offices.

Hurley said Tuesday his company, Hurley Development LLC, will submit permit applications within 30 days to renovate the structures, and construction will take another 90 days. He paid $800,000 for the buildings, which contain about 26,000 square feet on above-ground levels, and 5,000 square feet each in basements. He plans to spend another $400,000 on facade improvements and interior renovations.

“Main Street is one of the hearts of Vancouver,” he said.

The buildings are familiar to long-time residents for their previous tenants: The antiques mall was once Clauson’s Office Supply and, before that, J.C. Penney. The Vintage Connection, in 808, is remembered as Boyd’s 88 Cent Store. The late Boyd Baldwin owned the buildings, which were sold by his son Brent Baldwin.

Hurley’s company is developer of The Source Climbing Center, a $1.5 million rock-climbing gym now under construction at 11th and Main streets. Hurley said he’s negotiating to purchase the former Koplan’s Home Furnishings building at 1012 Washington St., a two-floor building containing 25,500 square feet. He wouldn’t comment on his plans for the site.

The redevelopment of the Main Street buildings is expected to force a relocation of the Old Town Antique Market, which occupies the southern half of two buildings that appear, visually, to be a single structure. On Tuesday, the antiques market was advertising a close-out sale running through Sept. 14.

Owner Nicole Leslie she won’t be able to afford the new rent, which she said would be higher for a single floor than she now pays for the entire building. The market, which offers furniture and a variety of antiques sold on consignment or by vendors, occupies some 16,000 square feet for retail display on two floors and a mezzanine.

She’s been looking in recent days for a new location she could afford, but without success, Leslie said. “If we find something, and I think I’ve looked at everything available, it’s going to be a whole different thing,” she said. “It will be a tenth of the size that we were.”

Leslie said she takes pride in contributing to the growth of downtown Vancouver as a destination for antiques. Since she moved from Portland six years ago, the number of antiques stores in downtown has grown from three to 10, she said. Even if she does not open a new retail site, Leslie said, she plans to continue managing estate sales.

Michael Jandro, owner of Vintage Connection, said he’s hoping to come up with a new agreement with Hurley that will allow him to remain in the location. He moved downtown in the spring after being displaced by a highway project in Battle Ground and said he loves the location. The Vintage Connection sells vintage and retro clothing and antique furniture, either directly or through vendors, on the building’s first-floor and basement levels.

Lee Rafferty, executive director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association, said she’s pleased with Hurley’s desire to develop the building’s upper levels into office space. “There’s a new vision coming in,” she said. “This is a sign of good health.” Rafferty said she is working with Leslie to find a new home for her antiques business in the downtown area.

Rafferty is part-owner of the building immediately north of Hurley’s new building, which is now up for sale. That building, with 10,000 square feet, is offered for $800,000, said Eric Fuller, president of Eric Fuller & Associates Inc., who is broker for the property.

Fuller said there is interest in downtown Vancouver properties, but few sales are taking place downtown or elsewhere in the county’s commercial real estate market except when owners are under personal or business pressure to sell. “There is very little transaction volume because of the discrepancy between the seller’s opinion of value and the buyer’s opinion of value,” he said.