DSHS offices plan to merge in new building

Developer plans to break ground next month, finish in '14




Developer submits plans for office building.

Developer submits plans for office building.

The Vancouver offices of the state Department of Social and Health Services will consolidate and lease space in an office building set to break ground in September and finish next fall at Northeast 136th Avenue and Ninth Street.

Space in the two-story building will house between 350 and 360 employees, bringing five separate DSHS agencies closer together to share a computer system, as well as conference rooms and an employee lunch space, said Jeff Willis, manager of lease facilities for DSHS. He said most of those workers now report to separate offices in the former Tower Mall at 5411 E. Mill Plain Blvd., about four miles away.

“This project collocates multiple DSHS programs in one facility, reducing square feet and cost, and creating operational efficiencies for both staff and customers,” Willis said.

He said DSHS would lease less space in the new building than it occupies at its current site.

Development costs are not available for the building, proposed by Arlington-based Vine Street Investors, which would not disclose project costs.

“Vine Street acts as its own developer. We contract and develop our own building,” said Camron McKinley, vice president of Vine Street, which develops offices for state government.

Willis said DSHS will occupy about 72,500 square feet of the 82,000-square-foot building.

The agencies that will move are:

• Economic Services Administration.

• Community Service Division and call center.

• Division of Child Support.

• Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, part of the Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation Administration.

• Aging and Long-Term Support Administration.

“It’s just about every department, except for children,” Willis said,

He said the Division of Children and Family Services will remain at 907 Harney St.

Willis said DSHS staffing levels are down, another reason the department expects to reduce costs by sharing space in Vancouver, where staff from the five agencies can share common areas and link into a main computer hub. That hasn’t been possible in the former Tower Mall space, where divisions of DSHS are not near each other, he said.

McKinley expects the office building will open in October 2014. The office site is planned as part of a multi-building development on the southwest corner of Ninth and 136th.

Later phases will add approximately 20,000 square feet to the office building and three separate retail buildings fronting 136th Avenue. McKinley said his company has plans to complete the office development before turning to the office addition and retail pads, which have no proposed tenants at this time.

“It would be in the future at some point,” he said.

Cami Joner: 360-735-4532 cami.joner@columbian.com.