The Vancouver City Council approved a contract Monday that will launch construction this winter on the Grant Street pier, the centerpiece of a future $1.3 billion residential and commercial development that will rise along the Columbia River over the next several years.
Of the six bids the city received, Quigg Brothers of Aberdeen submitted the lowest bid of $715,500 for the job of removing wood and steel piles from the river and building a cofferdam. The city will pay for the project out of its Parks Capital Projects funds.
A cofferdam is a temporary, watertight enclosure that allows water to be pumped out of the area so piles can be driven into the riverbed. By law, construction below the ordinary high water mark in the Columbia River can occur only between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. The cofferdam will allow pier construction to proceed after the time window closes for in-water work.
A 7-acre city park containing the $4.5 million Grant Street pier will sit at the heart of the 21-block waterfront development by Gramor Development of Tualatin, Ore. The $17 million park is expected to open to the public sometime in 2017.
The council narrowly approved the contract by a 4-3 vote after several members of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters objected to Quigg Brothers’ plan for using apprentices for 3 percent of the work. The carpenters wanted to see the project go to a local bidder who would use pilebuck apprentices rather than carpenters’ apprentices on the job, which they said was dangerous and more suited for pilebucks, who perform construction in a marine environment.
Councilors Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Alishia Topper and Bart Hansen voted against the contract award on the grounds that 3 percent was a stingy amount of training to provide apprentices. Councilors Jack Burkman and Larry Smith, who voted for the contract, pointed out that Quigg Brothers met the requirements the city set when seeking bid proposals.
In other council business Monday, the council approved a 0.251 percent property tax increase for 2016. By law, cities can annually raise the property tax by a maximum of 1 percent or by the rate of inflation, whichever amount is less. The rate of inflation used for calculating 2016 tax revenue is 0.251 percent, measured by the Implicit Price Deflator. As a result, the city’s property tax revenues will be about $300,000 less than originally projected for 2016. However, increased revenues from other sources will make up the difference, according to the city.
Although the tax is rising by a quarter percent, city residents’ property tax bills (for the city portion of taxes) will decrease slightly because the assessed property values in the city have risen by about 6.2 percent. Therefore, the owner of a house worth $200,000 last year has, all else being equal, a $212,400 house now and will see a $7.56 drop in property taxes next year. (For more details on this calculation, see the city’s staff report.)