MidiCi pizza franchise added to The Waterfront Vancouver plans

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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A Los Angeles-based pizza franchise is the latest business staking a claim at The Waterfront Vancouver.

MidiCi Neopolitan Pizza Company will move into the ground floor of Block 6 West, a six-story tower along the Columbia River expected to open in 2018. It will neighbor offices for high-end real estate firm Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, underneath 64 luxury apartments.

The news was announced Thursday afternoon by Gramor Development, the Tualatin, Ore.-based firm that is leading the $1.5 billion overhaul of the waterfront property.

“The ambience of Block 6 is really coming into focus, and we’re excited to have MidiCi as a part of it,” said Barry Cain, president of Gramor, in a statement. “MidiCi is just the sort of tenant who will help make The Waterfront a spectacular urban destination unlike anything in the Portland metropolitan region.”

MidiCi becomes the latest item on the menu of waterfront restaurants, collectively called The Shops on Waterfront Way. Ghost Runners Brewery, WildFin American Grill, and Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar are all slated to open next year at Blocks 9 and 12, sidling up to the upcoming Grant Street Pier.

The pizza franchise has just over 30 locations across the United States, many of which are on the East Coast. The franchise said it plans to build more than 400 locations in the next six years and picked the waterfront because it will be one of “a handful of top attractions” in the area.

“We could be anywhere in this area, but we chose the waterfront project because I truly believe that it’s going to be an iconic destination,” said Bill Hueffner, whose company will run the franchise.

In the release, the pizza franchise described its style as “fast fine,” aiming for fast service, low costs and high-quality food. Its online menu offers nearly two dozen pizza combinations. Its 4,100-square-foot location at Block 6 West will reportedly include two handcrafted, wood-fired ovens.

Another mixed-use tower on Block 6, called Block 6 East, will be a seven-story office tower. Two floors have been leased to M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

The news is the latest in the yearslong makeover of Vancouver’s waterfront properties, which formerly housed the Boise Cascade paper mill. Gramor has owned its 21-block stretch since 2008, and there are plans for a 7.3-acre city park and a hotel.

The Port of Vancouver has plans to build its own 10-acre waterfront property just to the east, too.