84-acre development proposed for 192nd, north of Highway 14

Plans include homes, apartments, retail, a hotel, open spaces and parks

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter

Published:

 

Some new neighbors will be moving to the quarry east of Southeast 192nd Avenue, and they won’t resemble Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

The Columbia Palisades project, centered around 192nd directly north of Highway 14, will feature a hotel, retail, office space, 50 homes and more than 300 apartment and condominium units over a dozen blocks, according to plans submitted to the city of Vancouver on Thursday. 

At 84 acres, the development is bigger than the downtown Vancouver waterfront project and will change the face of Exit 10 on Highway 14. 

“It will be a thriving, self-contained community before long,” said developer Ed Freeman with Columbia Palisades Corp. “Certainly it will have a great economic impact.”

Freeman is partnering with well-known Portland developer Joe Weston on the project, which will be built in phases starting in spring 2017. The project could be fully built out as early as 2020, according to planning documents. Freeman did not disclose development costs.

“The hotel site and the two commercial pads on the west side of 192nd will be in our first phase for next spring and summer, and certainly our spine road will be first,” Freeman said.

That spine will arch from 192nd to Brady Road and will include an additional new road to access the single-family lots planned for the hillside above the quarry.

The project will include more than 600,000 square feet of office space and 118,000 square feet of retail, some of which will be mixed into several five-story apartment buildings. The proposed hotel will have 100 rooms, and the site will also host 24 acres of open space — including about 5 acres of parks.

The 50 homes on the bluffs, at the edge of Vancouver’s city limits, will “take advantage of views to the south and west,” according to the master plan.

Those can’t-beat views for new Vancouver residents, however, could block the vistas that Camas homeowners on the hillside have enjoyed for years.

“Anywhere you live, anywhere you buy, you have to realize it’s going to get built out,” said Chris Delano, who owns a home with his wife and two kids on 22nd Street overlooking the quarry and beyond. “We’ve been spoiled.”

On Thursday, Delano said he was looking forward to getting more information on where his new neighbors will be located, which so far isn’t clear. Current plans show a new street separating the Camas and Vancouver homes, and Freeman said the new lots may be at a lower elevation. Wider-than-normal lots could support less visually imposing one-story homes.

Vancouver senior city planner Jon Wagner said that based on a first glance at the development’s master plans, views should be preserved.

“There’s quite a difference in elevation,” Wagner said. “I don’t expect there to be substantial view blockage, but we’re still reviewing the application.”

For Delano, who’s considering a move from his home of two years due to the development, the biggest worry wasn’t necessarily the views.

“Our concern was home value (dropping), but I don’t foresee that happening,” he said.

Down the block, Stephanie Walters and her husband have lived in their house for 11 years. Other than the noise from the quarry and the work connecting sewer and water lines under 192nd, Walters said her family will take the new development in stride.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Walters said. “It is what it is.”

That a Vancouver development could be tucked practically inside a Camas neighborhood traces back to the larger city taking control of 192nd Avenue years ago. The city boundary gerrymandering that ensued has stranded retail development — some with Camas addresses — outside of Camas city limits.

With already slim retail receipts, the Columbia Palisades project could funnel even more money out of the city.

“My initial take is it looks like a pretty decent project, and it’s a crying shame it’s not in the city of Camas,” Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said. “The natural dividing line (192nd) was lost many years ago, and it’s unfortunate. It looks like it’s going to be a great project for Vancouver, and many Camas residents will support it and pay taxes to the city of Vancouver as a result.”

Comments on the project’s environmental impact will be taken until 4 p.m. June 6 and can be sent to jon.wagner@cityofvancouver.us or Community & Economic Development Dept., P.O. Box 1995, Vancouver, WA 98668.

A hearing is scheduled before the planning commission at 6 p.m. July 26, and the city council will likely take up the project in August. If all goes the developers’ way, construction may start next spring.

“As we’re approached by folks, we’ll prepare sites inside the main body of the project — and interested parties have already approached us,” Freeman said. “I think it will come along nicely.”

If the views do end up blocked, and homeowner Delano ends up moving, he said it probably wouldn’t hurt the neighborhood or the project in the long run.

“I’m sure some Californian will come up and not care. They’re used to it.”