BergerABAM moving to former City Hall site

First new tenant in renovated building will occupy entire third floor of what's now called Block 56

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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The engineering and environmental consulting firm BergerABAM said Monday that it will move its Vancouver offices to the former City Hall building at 210 E. 13th St., the first announced tenant in a building that is now called Block 56.

BergerABAM will move out of its existing offices at 1111 Main St. on Oct. 1, according to a spokesman for the company. It will occupy the entire third floor of Block 56, taking about 8,000 of the building's 29,000 square feet. The company based in Federal Way, has about 35 employees based in Vancouver.

BergerABAM will be the first new tenant in the renovated building, which was vacated in 2011 when the city moved to 401 W. Sixth St. near Esther Short Park. Tom Shimota of the Portland office of JLL, a commercial real estate firm that is representing the building owner, said he is talking to five other prospective tenants about the remaining two floors of the building.

Once those deals are signed, probably within the next two weeks, the building could be fully occupied by January, Shimota said.

Vancouver Public Schools had owned the property and became the building's owner after the city relocated its offices. The school district sold the building for just under $2 million to Northwest Equity Holdings. Brothers William and Bruce Firstenburg, of the family that owned the former First Independent Bank, hold controlling interest in that company. It provided the financing for the approximately $5 million investment in renovating the building, which is now under ownership of Block 56, LLC.

Shimota said the renovation included upgrades to the building's electrical and plumbing systems, facade improvements, energy efficiency measures, and aesthetic upgrades. It features stained concrete floors, high open ceilings with spiral ducting and pendant light fixtures, bike parking, and a fitness center.

"The space is nothing short of spectaular," he said.