Vancouver approves Esther Short Building deal

Developer has tenant for 2-story offices, also plans a 6-story residential building




The Vancouver City Council has approved an amendment to the sale of a city-owned building and its adjoining property, paving the way for another urban redevelopment project in downtown Vancouver.

In a deal worth $5 million to the city’s general fund, the city will sell the two-story Esther Short Building, 610 Esther St., for $3.2 million to West Park Partners LLC, owned by developer David Copenhaver. That sale is set to close Friday.

In its Monday action, the City Council gave Copenhaver an additional 90 days to pull together the financing to buy the property west of the building for $1.8 million. The vacant lot is approximately three-quarters of a city block in size and is now used as a surface parking lot next door to the Esther Short Building.

Copenhaver plans to remodel the existing building for office space and he has already secured a tenant, he told city officials. He plans to develop the parking lot into a six-story apartment complex with at least two levels of parking, although no formal development plans have been submitted.

Copenhaver confirmed by text message on Tuesday his plans to buy the property, but he did not return a request for comment.

If built, the apartment building would rise just south of the five-story Esther Short Commons building at 555 W. Eighth St., which includes 160 apartment units and ground-floor retail space fronting Esther and Eighth streets.

Vision for downtown

“That would fit in well with the city’s redevelopment plans,” said Chad Eiken, Vancouver’s director of community and economic development, referring to the Vancouver City Center Vision Plan launched in 2000 and revised in 2007 by the city, businesses, port officials and downtown residents, Aimed at bringing more vibrancy to the downtown core, the plan’s goal is for a mixture of residential, civic and retail development in 130 square blocks, including waterfront acreage that once housed the Boise Cascade mill.

One entrance to the 32-acre waterfront site is about a block away from the Esther Short Building. The waterfront site is being marketed for development by Copenhaver’s former employer, Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development.

City staff vacated the Esther Short Building about two years ago as part of a consolidation from five locations across the city into the new City Hall at 415 W. Sixth St. The six-story City Hall is cater-corner from the Esther Short Building and was formerly offices for The Columbian Publishing Co.

Before the city acquired the Columbian building through a bankruptcy sale for $18.5 million, the city had planned to redevelop the Esther Short Building site as a new city hall, said Tim Haldeman, the city’s general services director.

“When the Columbian building became available, we stopped all efforts on that property and focused on this one,” he said.