Apartment complex breaks ground

Overlooking river, Columbia View will have 320 units

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Salem Ore.-based Mountain West Investment Corp. has broken ground in Vancouver on a new 320-unit apartment complex on a 16-acre site overlooking the Columbia River just south of Evergreen Boulevard.

Columbia View Apartments will be a two-phase development on the former site of the Rose Vista Senior Center at 5001 Columbia View Drive. The site will ultimately hold the 320 units in 19 buildings no taller than 50 feet, with 561 parking spaces. Apartments will range from one bedroom units of 725-square-foot to three bedroom units with 1,440 square feet.

Mountain West's Hillary Banks said rent for the units would be "market rate."

Mountain West will finish laying foundations and underground utilities for the development's first phase, which will include 10 buildings and 176 units, in November, Banks said.

The first building will open in June 2015, and the second is set to open the following month. All 10 buildings of the first phase should be open by November 2015, she said.

Banks said that Mountain West does not know when Phase 2 will begin, although there may be a break in construction after Phase 1. "In a perfect world we wouldn't stop at all," she said, "but we know that probably will not happen."

The market looks good in Vancouver for new apartments, Banks said, as new apartments in the area are "absorbing renters pretty quickly."

According to the Spring, 2014 edition of the Barry Apartment Report, a rental market analysis by Portland-based Barry & Associates, apartments in the Portland metro area have a 3.1 percent vacancy rate, the 13th lowest in the nation. Vancouver apartments have between a 3.0 and 3.3 percent, said Patrick Barry, apartment appraisal specialist for the firm.

"It's been low for a while now," Barry said of the vacancy rate.

According to Barry, rates below 4.5 percent indicate a "landlord's market." The Barry Apartment Report says that vacancies regionally have declined steadily since hitting 5.6 percent in 2009.