Dentist plans $3M E. Vancouver retail project

Tenants would include restaurant, cellphone store

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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A Camas dentist said Monday he expects to break ground early next year on a $3 million retail strip center that will round out the Mill Plain Crossing complex in the Columbia Tech Center mixed-use development in east Vancouver.

The project will be part of the Mill Plain Crossing, a Walmart Supercenter-anchored retail center near high-volume traffic and plentiful residential and business development. The attractive conditions generated high interest in the project, said Sanjeev Sharma, the project's developer and a Camas dentist. Sharma is also the owner of Sleep Dentistry at 19221 S.E. 34th St. in the QFC-anchored Fisher's Terrace retail complex.

Sharma said he has lined up three presigned tenants to lease the center, including a Cafe Yum restaurant, a store for a major cellphone provider and an emergency dental clinic that will be operated by another doctor.

"We just filed an application for permits" to build the project, he said.

Sharma said crews from general contractor RSV Construction Services Inc. of Vancouver will build the structure. Its less-than-1-acre site is on the northwest corner of 192nd Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard next to a Panda Express restaurant.

The cellphone store will take up 3,200 square feet of the 8,400 square-foot building. The remaining square footage will be split between the restaurant and the dental clinic. Sharma expects construction to finish by mid-2014.

The Camas dentist paid $975,000 to purchase the property in 2012, according to Clark County public records. The original plan was to build a new clinic for his existing practice, Sharma said. He has operated the practice in leased space since 2003.

"We wanted to move, but then we heard from other interested parties," he said.

Sharma said he soon discovered it would be more lucrative to build the center and lease the space out to other businesses.

In addition to the Walmart store, which opened in 2006, Mill Plain Crossing is home to a Home Depot store and a host of smaller shops and services, such as Starbucks and a Riverview Community Bank branch. The area is one of the busiest retail sectors in Clark County, near Costco, Lowe's and J.C. Penney.

The 192nd Avenue corridor is a big commercial draw to growing corporate hubs such as Fisher Investments, which is building a second building at its Camas campus and could add up to 250 employees to its local workforce of 450 people. East Vancouver is also the home of the headquarters campus of health care nonprofit PeaceHealth, as well as a future home for Integra on part of the former Hewlett-Packard campus.

The area's commercial and residential building growth is poised to heat up even more after the October opening of an east-west roadway connecting Camas to Vancouver along Southeast 192nd Avenue at 20th Street.