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Friday, September 29, 2023
Sept. 29, 2023

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Uptown Apartments to offer car-sharing option

2 Teslas will be made available to address tenants’ needs

By , Columbian Business Editor

Uptown Apartments management in Vancouver plans to make two electric vehicles available to residents. It’s likely the first time a residential-based car-sharing service has been offered in the city.

The service also marks the first time a private entity — and not a government agency — has been the driving force behind car-sharing, a practice that is familiar in Seattle and Portland.

Two Teslas — perhaps the Model 3 — are expected to be available starting the second quarter of this year to residents at the 167-unit complex on Main Street at McLoughlin Boulevard. Cascadia Development Partners, which built the Uptown, has teamed up with car provider Envoy Technologies of Culver City, Calif., for the program.

“We were looking for an additional transportation option for our residents that would eliminate the need to worry about fueling, maintaining, or paying to park on a monthly basis,” David Copenhaver, Cascadia president, said in a written statement. “Not only does this amenity fill those needs, but it fits within our vision to provide a healthy, energy-efficient home for our residents.”

Residents will pay a usage fee similar to what is charged by car-share companies ReachNow and Car2Go, according to a Cascadia spokesperson.

In Portland, ReachNow and Car2Go make vehicles available for rent through designated areas in the city for a pay-by-time fee. Cars can be driven from one location in the designated area and left in a different location in the area. The services differ from the car-share company Zipcar, which makes cars available also for a pay-by-time fee, but requires them to be returned to the location where they were rented.

‘A great component’

Zipcar kept a vehicle parked near Vancouvercenter, on the east side of Esther Short Park, until about four years ago, when it was removed due to lack of business.

Nevertheless, Vancouver city officials have been in contact with Zipcar about the company’s possible return to downtown, particularly with the development of apartments along the waterfront and elsewhere, said Jennifer Campos, the city’s principal transportation planner.

“We think car sharing is a great component to the city’s transportation programs” advocated for downtown, Campos said, including transit, carpooling, bicycling, walking and car-sharing.

Campos said the Uptown Apartments is the first residential car-sharing program in the city. She said she was not aware of any other residential projects that have been proposed or are under construction that have contemplated car-sharing plans. Also, the city does not offer financial incentives to encourage developers to incorporate car-sharing into their proposals, she said.

Copenhaver, through the spokesperson, credited the Columbia River Economic Development Council for connecting the developer with Envoy, a company that has car-share vehicles at more than 100 residences, offices and hotels in the United States.

The $45 million, six-story Uptown opened last year, renting units for $1,515 to about $2,600, including studios, one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus and two-bedroom units.

Copenhaver, who sits on the city of Vancouver’s City Center Redevelopment Agency and the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, called the area a bridge between downtown and uptown. More and more people want to live and work there, he said, and city and local businesses stand to benefit.

The Uptown development will mark Envoy Technology’s first foray into Washington, according to a news release. The company plans to introduce its vehicles in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Texas, Chicago, New York, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C. Typical locations for its vehicles include apartments, student housing, office campuses, co-working spaces and hotels.

Perhaps no Uptown Apartments resident will be more excited about the arrival of the two Teslas than Jeremy Vermilyea.

Vermilyea, an attorney in Vancouver, had been urging Uptown’s management for months to offer car-sharing at the complex. When he learned that management was exploring the idea, Vermilyea contacted a variety of the services, touting Vancouver and the Uptown as a great place to start. The only company to respond to his entreaties, he said, was Envoy.

Vermilyea said he’d grown accustomed to paying for car-sharing when he lived in Portland and Seattle. He said he’d like to see more car-sharing options offered in Vancouver, arguing that it made more economic sense than personal vehicle ownership.

Vermilyea, who owns a 12-year-old pickup, said the economic benefits of car-sharing include no car payment, no maintenance costs, and no need to have or pay for garage or parking spaces.

“We in Vancouver are part of the larger Portland metro area, and car-share programs would be wise to think of in this community in that context,” Vermilyea said in an email. “There are more than 70,000 commuters who cross the bridges to work in Oregon, and it makes no sense to me that on that side of the bridge they have access to the many car-share options available in Portland proper, but once they cross to this side those options evaporate.”

Columbian Business Editor