Construction is booming at two neighboring properties on Northeast 117th Avenue, where plans to turn an 18.2-acre parcel into a storage facility and 5.7-acre parcel into a used car dealership are starting to take shape.
The larger of the two will eventually become the Padden Parkway Commerce Center, a personal storage rental complex that will house 18 storage buildings, a wash station, dump station, open tractor-trailer lot and office building. The business is slated to open its doors by the end of the year, though opening day could come as early as October, said Terry Wollam, managing broker for ReMax Equity Group and partial owner of the property, co-owned with his father.
The business will target boat, vehicle and RV owners with month-to-month storage options. Lots will range between $100 and $400 depending on their size — anywhere from 150 square feet to 840 square feet — and whether the units are enclosed or open.
“We just felt like there was a need,” said Wollam, whose proposal to Clark County Community Development was approved in June 2017. “I had a motor home and tried to find a place to store it, but the only place I could find was in Woodland.”
Urbanization around Vancouver is driving the demand for storage space outside of residences, Wollam said. As housing options grow increasingly closer together and more vertical, additional spaces for storage are becoming more and more rare. Owners of boats and vehicles are finding themselves without a long-term, nearby solution, he said.
“We’d just be basically kind of filling that gap. We’d become a third-car garage space that people used to have, but they’re not able to have anymore,” Wollam said.
The parcel is bordered to the north by Padden Parkway, with Northeast 117th to the east. It’s zoned light industrial. The Clark County Property Information Center, an online assessor database, values the plot at $1.08 million.
AKS Engineering & Forestry and Rotschy Inc. are working on the project, which broke ground last month after a two-year permitting process.
A few blocks to the south, another site at 7005 N.E. 117th Ave. is under construction, a 5.7-acre lot slated to serve as the newest location for used car dealership giant CarMax.
Upon completion, the dealership will become the Fortune 500 company’s fifth location in Washington. CarMax also has dealerships in Beaverton, Ore., and Clackamas, Ore.
“We are pleased to confirm that the company has identified Vancouver as a good fit for our current growth plan and does indeed have plans to open a store there during the winter of 2019,” Lindsey Duke, CarMax public relations coordinator, wrote in an email to The Columbian.
The CarMax building will be approximately 7,400 square feet and employ between 15 and 20 people, Duke estimated. Locally, the lot will feature about 150 to 200 cars on-site, though customers can access the full CarMax database and request that any of the company’s 50,000-vehicle inventory be shipped to Vancouver.
“We are looking forward to providing customers there with our simple and stress-free used car shopping experience,” Duke wrote.
The plot of land is zoned general commercial and valued at $2.94 million, according to the county database. CSI Construction is working on the project.
Located just north of Vancouver’s city boundary, the region around 117th Avenue and Padden Parkway boasts opportunity for more affordable construction, said Andrea Smith, marketing and government relations director for the Southwest Washington Contractors Association.
“Looking for land that’s available to be developed, whether it’s for commercial or for residential — that’s huge on the county’s mind right now,” Smith said.
Cheaper than The Waterfront Vancouver but still surrounded by businesses and residences, she expects the region, which skirts the eastern edge of Five Corners, will have more major projects on the horizon.
“It’s really close to the freeway as well so that’s an attractive quality,” Smith said. “I see developers seeing the ROI (return on investment) here. There’s definitely room for opportunity, so might as well jump on it now.”