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News / Business / Clark County Business

14 things to know about fourth Vancouvercenter building

By Allan Brettman, Columbian Business Editor
Published: October 18, 2018, 6:02am
2 Photos
The latest plan for the fourth, and final, Vancouvercenter building.
The latest plan for the fourth, and final, Vancouvercenter building. Rendering provided Photo Gallery

Chad Eiken has overseen Vancouvercenter for most of his career with the city of Vancouver.

It’s been about a decade since the last of three buildings of the proposed four-building project was completed. And Eiken, a former planner and now the city’s director of community and economic development, could be forgiven for having his doubts as to whether that fourth building would ever get built.

Eiken, in an interview this week, said he now has no doubt that it will happen. The reason for that level of confidence leads off this list of 14 things to know about the fourth Vancouvercenter building.

1. Who’s building it? Holland Partner Group. For a developer with its name on tall towers in downtown Seattle and elsewhere in Oregon, California, Arizona and California, the company keeps a remarkably low profile. Repeated efforts to get a comment for this story and in a story earlier this year from a Holland official about Vancouvercenter were not successful. Attempts to find remarks from a Holland official in The Columbian archives about any of its other projects in the community were equally unsuccessful. Regardless, Eiken said he has no doubt the fourth building is going to happen under Holland’s leadership.

2. Where does such a low-profile company with high-profile projects call home? Vancouver. That’s right: 1111 Main St., Suite 700. The 13-story building is just north of Kiggins Theatre. But the company may be on the move.

3. On the move, you say? Yep. A story this summer in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record said Holland plans to put its headquarters into part of 300,000 square feet of office space the company is building, along with 276 apartments, off Northwest Fisher Creek Drive and Northwest 38th Avenue in Camas. It will be near Fisher Investments’ office campus.

4. Anything else known about Holland? It has 11 projects under construction in five states. Headed by CEO and Chairman Clyde Holland, the Holland Partner Group was formed in 2001 and owns more than 15,000 residential units and manages close to 25,000 additional units, according to a 2017 news story.

5. Who was the previous developer? Vandevco, which built the previous three buildings on the east side of Esther Short Park.

6. What happened to Vandevco? The company sold the existing south building and rights to build the fourth tower to Holland. Clark County records show the $14.75 million sale was recorded on March 30.

7. Where can I get a beer? Well, Luxe restaurant on the ground floor of the 11-story tower on Vancouvercenter’s northeast side would be a good bet.

8. But I want lots of beer. Wasn’t there once a brewery on that two-block site? Yes. John Haney began commercial brewing at the Lucky Lager site in 1857, according to a 1994 story in The Columbian archives. The brewery changed ownership several times, with names such as Star Brewing, Northern Brewing, Interstate Brewing, General Brewing and Lucky Brewing. Sometime in the 1940s or early 1950s, a sign was erected atop the brewery that said “Lucky Lager” with an “X” symbol that represented Lucky’s logo. In 1969, the General Brewing Corp. changed the sign to “Lucky Beer” with a large “L,” which was referred to as the company’s “Lazy L.” The brewery was closed in 1985, and operations moved to the now-defunct Olympia Brewing Co. plant in Tumwater.

9. Then what happened? The city of Vancouver purchased the brewery in 1994 for $2 million. One of the city’s first redevelopment ideas for the site: a light-rail terminal. In March 1999, Vandevco, a corporation owned by Balbadi Enterprises, a business, construction and development company based in the United Arab Emirates, emerged as the winning developer. Balbadi Chairman Ahmed Al Badi is a 1981 Lewis & Clark College graduate and longtime member of its board.

10. When did construction start on the three Vancouvercenter buildings? August 2000. One of the first steps — before building two six-story buildings and an 11-story building — was excavating a giant hole in the ground for a 750-space parking garage.

11. Did plans change along the way? Oh, yeah. There were eight amendments to the original development agreement, which Eiken says is a record for city projects. Along the way, the city engaged in gentle nudging as well as a threat in 2008 of an $800,000 fine to prompt Vandevco to build the fourth building.

12. How many different designs have existed for the fourth tower? Three, two of which were six-story residential towers, and one which was a 10-story tower.

13. Which one was chosen? Six-story tower, designed by the Portland firm Ankrom Moisan Architecture.

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14. What does it mean to get this fourth building built? “Vancouvercenter was one of the leading developments in the renaissance of downtown,” City Manager Eric Holmes said this week. “And having it completed, in this stage as we’re entering the next chapter of renewed investment and interest in downtown, is really kind of a fantastic transition between chapters.”

Columbian Business Editor