Washougal OKs amended deal for Hambleton site

Opinions mixed at hearing on plan to develop site

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 
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WASHOUGAL — Plans to redevelop the former Hambleton Lumber site and adjacent parcels near the Columbia River were put under a magnifying glass Monday, with more than a dozen people turning out to voice opinions about the project during a public hearing.

If you go

• Who: Port of Camas-Washougal.

• What: Public open house on the waterfront revitalization project.

• When: 4 to 6 p.m. today.

• Where: 24 S. A St. in Washougal.

Amid the packed chamber, councilors voted to approve an amended development agreement with Vancouver-based developer Killian Pacific, through its limited liability company Parker's Landing, and the Port of Camas-Washougal. The council vote was 6-1 with Councilwoman Caryn Plinski voting no.

Councilman Paul Greenlee expressed a desire to postpone the agreement but later voted in favor.

Opinions on the project were mixed, with some people wondering how the project would complement development efforts in the city's downtown corridor.

As proposed, Killian Pacific would "rejuvenate" the 26-acre site into a hub of businesses and homes, according to the agreement. It calls for building as many as 200 apartment or condominium units and allowing for more than 9,000 daily vehicular trips. Public amenities include a waterfront trail and a shoreline park with a boat launch.

Among those who spoke at Monday's meeting was Adam Taylor, a spokesman for Washougal-based Lone Wolf Development. Calling it a "misguided development," Taylor voiced skepticism that the project would align with Washougal's downtown projects, including ones Lone Wolf built.

"With waterfront development, you only have one time to get it right," he said, calling for council members to postpone a decision on the agreement.

Bridge divide

Developers and others in attendance said the waterfront project would bring a mix of jobs and exposure to Washougal.

"We see this as a tremendous, once in a lifetime opportunity for the city," said project developer Lance Killian.

Port director David Ripp echoed Killian's sentiments, saying the intention of the project was to bridge the divide between the city and its waterfront.

"It's our goal to have the connection with downtown," he said.

In that vein, the development agreement is intended to provide certainty to the developer and stakeholders looking to reconnect Washougal's downtown area to its waterfront.

Priorities questioned

The port in 2012 purchased about half the property's 26 acres from Killian Pacific, a commercial real estate development and investment company. Developers held onto the other half of the former mill parcel until teaming with the port to rehabilitate the waterfront property, promising restaurants, shops and boutiques surrounding an anchor tenant.

But under the terms of the development agreement, there's no guarantee any of those will be built, said Taylor, Lone Wolf's spokesman. "The development agreement doesn't require all of the goals be met," he said.

Lone Wolf has spent roughly $16.5 million on developing projects around the city's centerpiece, Reflection Park, including a 7,500-square-foot business incubator and the $14 million Washougal Town Square.

He said the city's priority should be placed on filling existing vacant commercial space in downtown Washougal.