Apartments planned near Legacy medical center

134th Street Lofts would also be close to WSUV in Salmon Creek

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 
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Two Camas-based developers plan to build a $22 million apartment complex in the Salmon Creek area, just off Interstate 205 at the Northeast 134th Street exit.

The 120-unit 134th Street Lofts could break ground by late summer as the latest project by Dean Kirkland and Tom Files, retail developers who have been focused more recently on the improved multi-family market. Kirkland cited high demand for apartments, especially in the Salmon Creek area, as the main reason his company is seeking approval from Clark County for the project. Developers propose to change their project to apartments from an already-approved six-story medical office. The property is located next to Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

Changes to the plan now must go through review once again "since it's significantly different," said Richard Daviau, a senior planner with the county's Community Development Department.

Apartments made more sense for that part of town, located near the hospital, Washington State University's Vancouver campus, and right on the edge of the I-205 and I-5 crossroads, Kirkland said. Apartment units also are more suited to meet market demand, he said.

"Market studies show a 3 percent vacancy rate for apartments with a continued growth rate," Kirkland said. "With Washington State (University), student housing is a big factor."

He also expects a 31-unit extended-stay component on the ground floor of the four-story complex that would serve families of hospital patients.

"There are not a lot of properties available for families near the hospital," said Kirkland.

With Files, he also developed the 192nd Avenue Plaza off Southeast 192nd and 20th Street on Vancouver's easternmost border with Camas. The duo have since begun work on two projects nearby, including the 192nd Plaza South on an adjacent tract and the 110-unit apartment complex, Westridge Lofts, just south of the retail development.

Kirkland and Files have so far successfully filled the 192nd Avenue retail developments with tenants because the sites are well exposed, draw from a busy thoroughfare and serve a higher-end demographic. Kirkland said he expects the apartments at 134th Street will be equally successful.

"Being near the hospital is a great opportunity," he said.

The closing date for public comments regarding potential environmental impacts of the project is April 1; comments should be emailed to richard.daviau@clark.wa.gov.