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Felida Village developer plans similar project for Ridgefield

The development could open in 2019

By , Columbian Staff Writer
3 Photos
Gabby White, left, and Justin Lee, right, both of Vancouver, walk their new cocker spaniel puppy, Ripley, along the sidewalk next to Felida Village, which opened in 2015. The mixed-use development has retail space, apartments and a vacation rental. Developer Ron Edwards is now one of the people bringing a similar project to Ridgefield.
Gabby White, left, and Justin Lee, right, both of Vancouver, walk their new cocker spaniel puppy, Ripley, along the sidewalk next to Felida Village, which opened in 2015. The mixed-use development has retail space, apartments and a vacation rental. Developer Ron Edwards is now one of the people bringing a similar project to Ridgefield. Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — With Felida Village, developer Ron Edwards was looking to bring some of the town square feel of Europe to Clark County. Now he’s looking to bring some Felida to Ridgefield.

Edwards is one of a few developers the city brought together for an upcoming project that will transform about 40 acres at the southwest corner of the roundabout at Pioneer Street and 45th Avenue into a mixed-use development with roughly 300 apartments, a new park and a commercial aspect.

“There are going to be concerns,” City Manager Steve Stuart said. “It is new. It’s unique in Ridgefield. There won’t be many others like it. There are very few places in Ridgefield where this type of density is allowed.”

City councilors approved the development agreement at their Feb. 8 meeting, about two years after the city started working on bringing mixed use to that spot. Originally, about 20 acres were purchased for apartments, Stuart said. But city officials were concerned that plopping down an apartment complex into an area without any nearby amenities wouldn’t draw people. So the city started looking around to bring other services to the property.

The city’s first idea was to try to bring in that elusive supermarket that residents in Ridgefield have long desired. But officials and the developers couldn’t make it work with a grocer at that time. Stuart said the city is “working on the final details” of being able to announce a grocery store coming to the city. He said it would be located on Port of Ridgefield property across South 45th Avenue from the upcoming 40-acre mixed-use project.

Another issue for the city was that part of the commercial half of the 40 acres was filled with wetlands.

“About 10 acres of the 20 commercial acres are not really suitable for retail buildings without a ton of work filling wetlands that we didn’t want to see filled,” Stuart said.

The idea to turn that into a new city park helped the development take a step forward.

The project has three parts: about 20 acres for the 300-unit apartment complex, about 10 acres for the commercial space and about 10 acres of green space connecting the residential and commercial developments.

“Instead of trying to pave (the wetlands) over, we’re going to use part of it as a central park, with play areas and picnic areas,” Stuart said. “It will connect people with the natural environment and connect residential with commercial.”

The residential project will be handled by Jeff Gordon, owner of Investment Development Management, with construction by Ott Gaither. Gordon said the units will most likely be one- and two-bedroom apartments renting from $1,000 to $1,500 a month.

“We’ve wanted to come to Ridgefield for a while,” Gordon said. “We love the community, the people, the feel. It has a great school district.”

Their company will technically own the 10-acre park until construction on the apartment complex is complete, and then they will turn it over to the city.

Edwards and his development partner, Tom Files of Braley-Gray in Vancouver, will own and operate the commercial aspect. Edwards was brought in after meeting Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow and talking to him about Felida Village. Onslow introduced Edwards to Stuart and the two discussed their vision for tying together multi-family and commercial retail.

One of the main features of the commercial space, Edwards said, will be a covered year-round farmers market. They’re hopeful the development will have indoor sports courts, and are expecting space for 30-35 businesses, Files said. Edwards said he’s heard from a few business owners who have expressed interest in opening up in the commercial space, which the two developers are so far calling Pioneer Village.

Edwards said he expects the businesses will include restaurants, a hair salon, a fitness studio, medical offices, a drive-through coffee spot and a bank. The area will be pedestrian-friendly, with space to walk, views looking out at the park and areas to sit that blend in with the green space.

“Creating a place where community gathers in a more European way will work in (Ridgefield) like it did in Felida,” Edwards said.

Files said he thinks the space will work because people don’t want to visit big box stores as much anymore.

“People want to do business with people,” he said. “It’s a throwback to how things used to be.”

While that might be a throwback, the two developers are also thinking about the future. Edwards said they’re trying to design the commercial space for 2030, not 2018. They’ve talked about building for the possibility of autonomous shuttles driving guests from one side of the property to the other. They’ve also looked into tech retail, where shoppers can order something online and then go pick it up in person. They’re also looking into charging stations for electric vehicles.

The commercial development will also have about 50 micro-apartments on top of the retail space, Edwards said. The apartments will run about 450 to 600 square feet. Files said they think there will be demand for the apartments from students at the upcoming Clark College Boschma Farms campus in the city. Edwards said there will be more apartments in a 60-foot tower that will provide 360-degree views.

The whole project will have a master plan that city officials oversee, and the next step will be for all parties to meet to go over the plan and design options, Stuart said. Construction on the project is expected to start this year, with the site opening sometime in 2019.

Felida Village

Edwards isn’t just focused on the Ridgefield project. He’s also at work expanding Felida Village. Currently, the mixed-use project is made up of three buildings at the corner of Northwest 119th Street and 36th Avenue with businesses on the ground floor and apartments above. There is also a community space for rent and a three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot apartment available for short-term rentals.

He also purchased two acres across 119th Street, half of which will be for commercial and the other half for residential. On the residential side, Edwards will build seven cottage houses and one accessory dwelling unit. On the commercial side, he’ll build another 3,800-square-foot building similar to those in Felida Village. He expects a breakfast restaurant and bookstore to open in that building, along with a covered outdoor seating area. There will also be six studio apartments. That should all be completed around spring 2019.

Felida Village currently has seven conventional apartments, three two-bedroom units and four studios. They rent between $950 and $1,350 a month, Edwards said, adding that since they opened in 2015, they rarely have remained vacant for more than a month. The new property will also have additional parking to the 50 or so spaces at Felida Village.

“Parking is the most complained-about thing here,” he said.

Edwards said that while Felida Village has been a success, as all commercial and residential space is currently leased, the Ridgefield project won’t necessarily look similar.

“We’re going to build a community-focused mixed-use development that is scaled appropriately for Ridgefield,” he said. “It will be something unique for an area that is underserved.”

Columbian Staff Writer