NorthGlen Villas part of a building trend

Multifamily housing is ‘where the work is’ for local construction

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



NorthGlen Villas

What: A 200-unit apartment and townhouse development now under construction, with 160 units set to be complete in June and another 40 units to start at a later date.

Where: On 10.7 acres on the southwest corner of Northeast 109th Street and 72nd Avenue, Vancouver.

Developer and general contractor: Gaither & Sons Construction, Vancouver.

Apartments galore are under construction in central Vancouver, where contractors are hard at work on the NorthGlen Villas multifamily complex.

The 200-unit project is located on 10.7 acres on the southwest corner of Northeast 109th Street and 72nd Avenue. Phase one, under construction now, includes 160 units, said Ott Gaither of Gaither & Sons Construction, general contractor and owner of the development. He expects work on the first phase to finish up in June, barring weather delays.

“We’re in the middle of it now,” said Gaither, a 25-year veteran of Clark County’s residential construction industry. Gaither’s is one of several local companies that have swapped single-family home subdivision work for apartment construction to meet the rising demand for rental housing.

“That’s where the work is at the time,” he said, for developers and tradesmen alike.

More than 30 subcontractors have been hired to work on the NorthGlen development, which translates to local jobs for skilled carpenters, electricians, plumbers and others in the construction trades.

“On average, there are probably 60 to 70 people a day” on the job site, Gaither said.

Building boom

A slump in single-family home sales has spurred a boom in apartment building over the last 12 months in Clark County, according to year-end figures from the county’s community development department.

In 2011, multifamily project con

struction increased 11-fold from a year earlier in unincorporated Clark County. The year saw 22 permits issued to build multifamily structures valued at more than $16.1 million, up from two permits issued for buildings worth $1.5 million in 2010.

Meanwhile, new housing starts reached a 10-year low in 2011, when just 348 permits were handed out to build single-family homes, a 32.4 percent decline from 515 permits issued in 2010.

Average vacancy rates in the Portland-Vancouver metro area were at 3.6 percent in 2011, down from a peak of 5.6 percent in 2009, according to The Barry Apartment Report, a regional publication.

Gaither said it is unclear when work will start on the last, 40-unit phase at the NorthGlen Villas project.

“I don’t know at this time,” he said. “We’re just focused on working our way through phase one for now.”