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Feb. 2, 2023

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Consultant shares waterfront ideas

Hired by port, it says planned hotel, offices on Terminal 1 property should be in separate buildings

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter
Published:

A hotel and offices should be included in an effort to redevelop the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1 waterfront property, a consultant reported Tuesday, but those uses would likely go in separate buildings instead of the single mixed-use structure the port initially discussed.

Although a mixed-use building would be an “impressive, iconic and visible” phase one building, according to the slide presentation by members of Leland Consulting Group in Portland, it would also be costlier, “more difficult to finance” and increase the likelihood “that other blocks would be empty.”

One building harboring a hotel and offices would be “very challenging to pull off,” Brian Vanneman, principal of Leland Consulting Group, told port officials during the commission’s regular public meeting Tuesday.

Vanneman’s remarks came as part of a process the port kicked off in December 2014. That’s when commissioners unanimously approved hiring Leland, for up to $250,000, to advise the port about the market and financial feasibility of redeveloping 10 of the port’s 13 acres at Terminal 1. The current uses of the waterfront site, between Columbia and Esther streets in Vancouver’s downtown, include the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, docks and piers, and a public amphitheater.

The Leland firm’s work is part of a broader effort by the port to write a long-term master plan, involving a 20-year outlook, for revitalizing the Terminal 1 property. The master plan work launched in April. That’s when port commissioners unanimously approved hiring NBBJ, a Seattle-based global urban planning firm, to handle the work for no more than $300,000.

Last month, NBBJ presented multiple potential concepts to commissioners, including everything from putting green roofs on terraced buildings and installing a traffic-calming corridor to creating a specialized retail market and merging blocks to generate a campus setting.

The master plan effort continues this evening, as the port invites the public to view concepts for rejuvenating the waterfront property during an open house to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Terminal 1 amphitheater. The open house will include opportunities to submit comments, take a survey and talk to project managers.

Three alternatives

Port commissioners are expected to review and discuss three master-plan alternatives in August. They’re also expected to approve a preferred plan this fall. That plan would then be presented to the city of Vancouver for its approval sometime between this fall and spring 2016.

Tuesday’s presentation by the Leland firm focused on the potential phase 1 redevelopment of the Terminal 1 site. That initial phase, which could occur in five years or sooner, according to Vanneman, could include 20,000 to 45,000 square feet of office space for a new port headquarters (currently located at 3103 N.W. Lower River Road in Vancouver); 40,000 square feet of speculative office space; a hotel with 100 to 130 rooms; 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and dining; and 200 to 250 parking spaces.

In addition to his recommendation that office and hotel uses go in separate buildings, Vanneman said putting the port’s headquarters at the site could help spark development of the property. There’s a market for a hotel, Vanneman said, but it’s cyclical. The window of opportunity to build hotels could “stay open” for another one to three years, he said, so it’s important for the port to “act relatively quickly on a hotel.”

The port and Red Lion are discussing how that hotel would fit into the port’s plan to redevelop the Terminal 1 site. Previously, the port has said the goal would be to keep the existing Red Lion hotel operating while a new structure is being built. It’s not exactly clear what will happen to the existing hotel site, but the port has said it’s interested in preserving at least some of its historic elements.

The Leland firm’s hotel recommendations include providing an “upscale experience” at a three-to-five-story building that would be “physically integrated with (a) plaza, esplanade, Terminal 1, and office building.”

The port has said it wants its waterfront property to complement other city parks and projects, as well as Columbia Waterfront LLC’s adjacent plan for a $1.3 billion commercial-residential redevelopment of Vancouver’s 32-acre waterfront. Columbia Waterfront LLC was formed by Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development and local investors.

For its part, the port owns 13 acres at the Terminal 1 site. It wants to redevelop 10 of them. It’s leasing the other three acres to Columbia Waterfront LLC.

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Columbian Port & Economy Reporter