A Yacolt company has purchased a slice of east Vancouver's Section 30 for $3 million, with plans to extract the gravel beneath its surface while holding the site as a long-term investment.
Real estate experts say it's the most practical use for the 30-acre parcel located in the center of Section 30. That's a box-shaped 533-acre area annexed by the city in 2008 as a potential redevelopment site for an urban employment center to attract new companies, residents and recreation. Those plans, released in a 68-page set of development guidelines in 2009, might be further along if the housing bubble hadn't burst at around the same time, diminishing the once-voracious appetite for new residential, office and retail projects.
"Today, there are no speculative mixed-use developers. That's not going to happen in the short term," said Eric Fuller, a commercial real estate broker with Eric Fuller & Associates in Vancouver.
Fuller represented the buyer, Yacolt-based Grayrock Resources LLC, in the real estate transaction. The seller was Carson-based Friberg Properties LLC.
Grayrock Resources plans to mine its latest land acquisition for aggregate rock and gravel, said Cornell Rotschy, the company's president. Grayrock sells the material to contractors and also keeps it for use by its affiliate company, Rotschy Inc., a family-owned excavation and construction firm.
Rotschy is general contractor for several large infrastructure projects in the region. Its ongoing projects include the Port of Vancouver's $275 million West Vancouver Freight Access project and the widening of the Salmon Creek exit off Interstate 205, part of the Washington State Department of Transportation's $133 million Salmon Creek Interchange project.
Rotschy said the 30-acre site Grayrock purchased also will serve as a landfill for the dirt the construction company extracts from its job sites.
Rotschy Inc. is in the process of filling in another portion of Section 30, an already mined out 23.5-acre site also owned by Grayrock.
"We are in the process of refilling the mined-out hole up to development grade," Rotschy said.
Plans for Section 30 still could play out over time, real estate professionals believe. But that redevelopment will continue to hinge on the market, said Adam Roselli, a broker with Eric Fuller & Associates.
"We can plan for what we think would be nice there. But when it's all said and done, the market dictates what happens," said Roselli, who represented the seller of the 30-acre site.
Others have said the 533-acre site could one day resemble the neighboring Columbia Tech Center, a 412-acre development that is home to major retailers, businesses, a satellite Clark College campus and housing.
Columbia Tech Center's northern boundary shares Section 30's southernmost boundary at Northeast First Street. Section 30 is roughly bounded on the west by Northeast 172nd Avenue, by 18th Street to the north and 192nd Avenue on the east, near Vancouver's border with Camas.
At one time, a single developer showed interest in developing the entire Section 30 tract, Roselli said.
"Unfortunately, the market changed," he said. "That's why they started breaking (Section 30) down to sell in smaller parcels."