Wait a McMinute: Fire station to occupy Fourth Plain site

City acquires land that was announced as new McDonald's

By Amy Fischer, Columbian City Government Reporter

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The city of Vancouver is buying land to build a new fire station at East Fourth Plain Boulevard and Main Street — the same parcel that McDonald’s had earlier eyed for a new restaurant, to the dismay of some neighbors.

Thursday afternoon, the city announced it has entered into a purchase agreement to buy the property at 2607 Main St., where it will relocate Fire Station 1, now at 900 W. Evergreen Blvd.

The project is part of a plan to move fire stations 1 and 2 to improve response times and maximize efficient coverage for all four stations in the southwest part of town. Studies have indicated stations 1 and 2 are too old and small to be remodeled and likely would collapse in a major earthquake. A new site for Fire Station 2, now at 400 E. 37th St., near the Safeway on Main Street, has not been announced. But it likely will be moving east of Interstate 5, according to the city.

“Finding the best-fit location for the new fire stations reinforces the city’s commitment to providing a safe, secure and livable city for our residents, businesses and visitors,” Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said in a press release. “Relocation of these two stations will significantly enhance public safety, particularly along the Fourth Plain corridor.”

The city will review proposals and choose an architect to design both fire stations within the next month. According to the preliminary timeline, a design should be finalized by the end of the summer and construction will start in spring 2016. The city will examine several different design layouts for the new stations to “find the best fit at the most efficient price,” Fire Chief Joe Molina said in the press release.

The station replacement effort was made possible by the recent sale of surplus city properties and a funding plan started in 2013, according to the city.

McDonald’s had a pre-application conference with city staff almost a year ago for the same site but hasn’t applied for a land-use permit, the next step in the process, according to Chad Eiken, community and economic development director. Based on the city’s preliminary report, the proposed McDonald’s would generate an average of 1,066 car trips a day.

The full-block site is currently home to several vacant buildings, including a former discount store and an auto repair shop.

The site is in the Shumway neighborhood, adjacent to the Carter Park, Hough and Arnada neighborhoods. Neighbors expressed more outrage last year at the prospect of a corporate burger chain opening at the busy Fourth Plain/Main Street intersection than over a marijuana store opening a few blocks south on Main Street. A “Stop Downtown McDonalds-VanWa” Facebook page garnered more than 1,000 followers.

The neighbors said a McDonald’s didn’t fit the vibe of the Uptown Village area, which is a convergence of independent boutiques and restaurants. They also were worried about traffic, litter, noise and light and suggested the McDonald’s would be better suited to a vacant shopping center at Fourth Plain and Kauffman Avenue.