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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Deal reached to demolish Centennial Center

The move allows access for Columbia Way

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The Centennial Center, part of the 1962-built Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, will be demolished for the extension of Columbia Way.

Chad Eiken, Vancouver’s director of community and economic development, told the city council on Monday that eliminating the Centennial Center means Columbia Way can be a straight street.

Eiken mentioned the Centennial Center’s imminent demise as part of an update on the city’s $1.3 billion water-front development and infrastructure work being done to prime the site.

Columbia Waterfront, a group of private investors, plans to redevelop the 30-acre former Boise Cascade mill site into a vibrant mix of retail and residential buildings, plus a hotel and greenspace, with the city constructing a 10-acre park.

The infrastructure improvements are a joint effort among the Port of Vancouver, the city of Vancouver and Columbia Waterfront.

Getting rid of the Centennial Center was the city’s preference, but the port owns the three-parcel site that houses the Red Lion at the Quay, its parking lot and adjacent Centennial Center.

In June, Eiken said the city was working with the port.

Abbi Russell, the port’s communications manager, said port commissioners voted last month to pay $3.4 million to buy out RLH Partnership LP, a move that means the 4,557-square-foot Centennial Center can be demolished. The agreement also sets the stage for talks between the port and Red Lion Hotel Holdings about the future of the hotel, Russell said.

Russell said asbestos will have to be removed from the Centennial Center before it can come down, and that process will likely start in October and take approximately five weeks.

Construction on Columbia Way will start next year, Eiken said.

The city’s portion of Columbia Way, which will branch west off Columbia Street, will cost approximately $6 million and serve as the east-west arterial to the development.

Current plans call for a 70-foot-wide street that includes 12-foot-wide sidewalks, one lane in each direction, on-street parking and markings for shared bicycle lanes. Criticism from bicycle advocates has prompted the city to reconsider the design, but Eiken reiterated to the council Monday that there’s no space for bicycle-only lanes.

“The whole project is really squeezed from north to south,” Eiken said.

He said priority goes to on-street parking to help bring in customers for the retail shops, and emphasized the speed limit on Columbia Way will be 20 mph.

Current plans do call for bike-only lanes on Grant Street, running south to the waterfront trail.

The extension of Columbia Way is part of a $45 million access project, which includes two new railroad bridges at Esther and Grant streets, the extension of Esther and Grant streets, the closure of railroad crossings at Jefferson and Eighth streets and related utility work.

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