Hotel construction will soon be underway at Vancouver's former Evergreen Airport, work that could usher in other development as part of a long-planned mixed-use project.
Crews have started preliminary work on a 99-room Hampton Inn and Suites on the northeastern border of the site. The 59-acre tract is on the northeast corner of Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard and 136th Avenue. The airport was closed in 2006, then purchased by Seattle-based Opus Northwest, which planned a "lifestyle" development of large and small retailers, offices, a hotel and housing.
Those plans fell by the wayside as the economy faltered.
The airport was purchased for $10.4 million in 2011 by an LLC called B52 Point of Evergreen, a company affiliated with the developers of Chuck's Produce and Street Market.
The company has built access roads to the site, sidewalks and curbs. It hired a commercial real estate firm to market the retail center and now, two years later, is building the first tenant space.
A spokesman for B52 confirmed plans to start work on the hotel, but declined to say whether the company planned to launch additional projects on the site.
Originally called The Landing at Evergreen Airport, the mixed-use development was planned to include upscale anchor stores such as Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble and Chico's apparel.
City officials expect the hotel to take about 18 months to complete.
Neighbors in the homes near the old airport have had mixed reactions to news that the first project is breaking ground on the site after a seven-year wait, said Ross Montgomery, president of the Airport Green Neighborhood Association.
"Some folks would like to see the project get going because of the amenities in regards to shopping," he said. "There are others who won't like it because it will take away this great, 55-acre park, if you will. We are just hoping it will have the quality the developers promised."