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July 12, 2020

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Work on Our Heroes Place resumes after long delay

Developer’s CEO says labor shortage primary reason for stoppage on downtown Vancouver project

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Cars drive past Our Heroes Place in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon.
Cars drive past Our Heroes Place in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Work has resumed on Our Heroes Place, an apartment complex consisting of two five-story buildings in downtown Vancouver, following a delay of several months.

The 49-unit project at the corner of Mill Plain and D Street comes from Prestige Development, the local company behind several Vancouver-area projects including the Prestige Plaza apartments on the adjacent block, the Lewis & Clark Plaza and the Regal City Center Stadium 12 cinema.

The $11.5 million Our Heroes Place project was announced in January 2016 and broke ground in February 2017. It was previously scheduled to be completed this May, Prestige Development President and CEO Elie Kassab said.

Kassab pointed to a tight construction labor market as the primary cause for the delay. Construction stopped during the summer, he said, after the previous project contractor was unable to line up the necessary workers.

“Nothing has been happening for about three and a half months,” Kassab said Wednesday. “I think there was a huge shortage of labor.”

Prestige eventually decided to let the previous contractor go, Kassab said, and sought a new construction partner. Work on the project resumed approximately three weeks ago after Prestige reached a deal with Vancouver-based Union Corner Construction to finish the job.

Kassab declined to name the previous contractor. A 2017 story in the Vancouver Business Journal lists Integrity Structures LLC as the project’s general contractor, and Wright Hotel Development was also featured on advertisement posters at the job site in 2017, although those posters have since been removed.

Reached for comment Wednesday, an employee at Integrity said that the company’s involvement with the project ended prior to 2018. An employee at Wright confirmed that the company was involved with the project, but referred further questions to another company official.

Kassab said the project was around 50 percent complete at the point when the previous contractor stopped work, and the remaining construction will be primarily focused on adding the buildings’ exterior walls, part of the roof and the interior finishes.

The Our Heroes Place buildings are named “Ed” and “Dollie” in honor of the late philanthropists Ed and Dollie Lynch. The Ed building on the northern side of the block is slated to include a drive-thru window and 3,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The project will also include 60 off-street parking spaces.

The buildings are now expected to be completed in the spring, with the Ed building likely finishing about a month ahead of the Dollie building. Tenants should be able to begin moving in shortly after, Kassab said, as soon as the buildings receive their certificate of occupancy.

“We’re scheduled to be done next April and May, if all the stars line up,” he said. “We’re just working hard to get it finished. It’s going to be a great building.”

Although the project is back on track, Kassab said the delay illustrates the difficulties facing developers in the midst of a booming construction market.

“I think the most important thing is you can’t expect to finish projects on time any longer because of the labor shortages and the cost of materials,” he said.

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