Building community key for developer of Sparks building

Money comes second to people for Ryan Hurley

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Published:

 

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Ryan Hurley: Building community key for developer of Sparks building

George Tsugawa: Woodland man tells students of life in internment camp

Nathan Webster: Veteran not afraid to Dream Big

The Johnsons: Amboy siblings recall childhoods at ‘the Big House’

Peggy McCarthy: On front lines of mental health crisis

The Proctors: Vancouver couple fight for veterans

Randy Fox: From inadvertent spotter to hall of fame coach

Lehman Holder: Outdoorsman happy to take the lead

Wade Leckie: ‘Bike guy’ pumps up city’s bicycling scene

Sara Teas, Jen Studebaker and Lee-Anne Flandreau: Fort Vancouver library’s virtual services go off the books

Tanya Bachman: Art teacher molds students with her can-do attitude

David Speer: Labor & Industries agent helps employees, mends fences

Ryan Hurley: Building community key for developer of Sparks building

Before every business deal, Ryan Hurley commits to the decision thorough prayer — and that’s not just because he’s dealing with multimillion-dollar transactions.

“I’m committed to moral and ethical development,” he said. “The larger endeavor of good projects is that they benefit the community.”

Building by building, the 40-year-old real estate developer is making his mark on downtown Vancouver.

And though his business has proven successful over the years, Hurley said that what he really hopes to do is help the city that he calls home grow and flourish.

“I love this community,” he said. “Vancouver is a small city for a large county. I feel like we’re in adolescence, and I want to take a participatory role in how she grows up.”

Knack for business

Hurley was born and raised in Vancouver, graduating from Prairie High School before attending Portland Community College to study fire science. Though he’d planned to be a firefighter, he said that he was always drawn to business and even started a few food stands while taking classes.

He did some business consulting for startups in the area and eventually began working for Hinton Development, a Vancouver-based developer of industrial property.

After nine years at the company, Hurley decided to start his own companies, Hurley Development and Ten Talents Investments, in 2008, in the thick of a recession that the market continues to grapple with.

“After a lot of prayer and counsel and thought, I moved out on my own and made a go of it,” he said. “We were successful in our first year in a difficult year.”

Hurley said that his recipe for success is 20 percent hard work, 10 percent experience and 70 percent providence.

“I feel like I was called to this,” he said. “I felt God’s favor in this process.”

Hurley got people’s attention when he broke into Vancouver’s downtown scene in 2009 with his first city center project, a $1.5 million rock-climbing venue on the southwest corner of West 12th and Main streets now called The Source Climbing Gym.

In the five years that followed, he went on to have a hand in more than a dozen development projects, about half of which are cultivating a crop of downtown businesses.

With the help of capital provided by silent investment partners, Hurley purchased and resold the former two-story downtown home of Koplan’s Furniture and its attached annex — one of those spaces is now occupied by Thai Orchid restaurant and the other is home to Web design firm Gravitate. He also bought and renovated the side-by-side vacant Main Street buildings that once made up the old five-and-dime Boyd’s 88 Center at 806 and 808 Main St.

He purchased the former Pacific Tower building at 915 Broadway, which has become home to commercial tenants, as well as the offices for Hurley’s two businesses.

Most recently, he bought the former Sparks Home Furnishings site, 1001 Broadway, for $1.7 million. Remodeling began last year and the first tenants are now in the building. It will be home to a coffee shop, Olson Engineering and other tenants.

Seeing potential

While working on his downtown projects, Hurley said that his goal was to keep the character of the buildings intact, maintaining their architectural integrity, “but at the same time bringing a new and fresh face to it.”

“Those disciplines take a lot of work, they take creative and thoughtful design,” Hurley said. “I want it to stand the test of time.”

Lee Rafferty has gotten to know Hurley over her five years as executive director of the Vancouver’s Downtown Association. She said she appreciates his ability to see the potential in buildings that others may write off as outdated infrastructure.

“He’s able to take something old and solid and give it a new purpose,” she said.

An excellent example of this, Rafferty said, is the Calvary Chapel, located at 806 Main St. in what was originally a J.C. Penney.

“They took a two-story retail space and fashioned it into a warm, inviting place of worship which has now become a really vital part of the fabric of downtown,” Rafferty said. “The average person wouldn’t have been able to walk in and say, ‘I see this.’ As a downtown manager, what I appreciate is someone who can come in with that kind of sensitivity.”

Rafferty said that Hurley has been easy to work with.

“I find him to be refreshing,” she said. “He is open-minded, and he doesn’t come into every conversation with his mind made up.”

Committed to faith

When he’s not working, Hurley can be found in his east Vancouver house with his wife and three daughters or at Crossroads Community Church, where he is a board member and leader of one of the church’s worship teams.

Hurley is the founder and president of Detour Ministries, which recently opened Boomerang at 808 Main St. The nonprofit coffee shop and consignment store aims to help other nonprofits turn assets into cash.

“I’m absolutely committed to my faith as a Christian man,” he said. “We want to be excellent at what we do, but what a great loss if the measure of our success is only profit and not the persons and the community.”

Throughout his million-dollar business deals, Hurley said his goal is to remain true to his morals and to always let people and relationships reign in the end.

“Money and profits really come second to people,” he said. “The whole point of a thriving economic community is the benefit of people.”

He said that he wants to make a good name for himself and his family so that he can walk through the streets and still be met with a wave — even if that means stomaching a monetary loss, he said.

“I plan on living in this community until the end of my life,” he said.

Tom Craig, former owner of Sparks Home Furnishings, sold his building to Hurley earlier this year. The business closed after being family-run for 132 years.

Craig, who had run the store for 37 years, said that he had been considering selling but was waiting for the right offer.

“(Hurley) was ethical and great to work with,” Craig said. “He seems very concerned with the sales process, to make sure it went smoothly for both parties.”

He had heard Hurley was a legitimate businessman, but after the transaction, Craig said that he now knows Hurley is an honest and upfront man. They have stayed in touch even after the deal was inked.

Working with businesspeople, architects, construction crews and potential tenants, Hurley said the work is akin to a marriage.

“In each development, you get married to someone and each (marriage) has issues you have to work out,” he said. “There’s always conflict.”

With the Sparks project near completion, Hurley is staying busy with a few big projects: a 200-plus apartment complex that includes 3 acres of commercial space off of 192nd Avenue and a five-story complex at an undisclosed site in downtown Vancouver.

And while he continues to aim to improve his community through development, Hurley said that he knows it all comes with risks.

“These are big projects with big money … there are no little losses in my world,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep an open view and create a win-win.”