Specifics of the sale, including the land’s price, were worked out between the company and the English family, which still owns the property, Eiken said.
“We are fortunate that HP, which has had a significant presence in Vancouver for almost 40 years, wants to stay and grow right here in our community,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle in a press release.
The development agreement between the city and the company will be the subject of a workshop before the Vancouver City Council on Dec. 9. A follow-up public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16, where residents can provide feedback.
The company’s move to the area is significant because it marks the first step in developing Section 30, an area the city has been gunning to fill with offices and light-industrial uses for more than a decade. Vancouver adopted a subarea plan for the entire 553-acre site back in 2009, seeking to take advantage of untapped development potential.
Eventually, city leaders hope, Section 30 will mirror the Columbia Tech Center as another major job-dense, mixed-use hub. The tech center is now the single largest taxpayer in the city, but it was essentially built from scratch in the 1990s on what was once 480 acres of gravel pit.
Today, Section 30 remains largely untouched. Previous mining operations have left the land with different elevations, further complicating any development.
“The parcel that they are purchasing, it will involve some fill but it’s really much closer to being construction-ready than some of the other mines out there,” Eiken said. “It will take some time to get the infrastructure in place. That’s one of the reasons why Section 30 hasn’t developed sooner — there’s really no street network, there’s no water, sewer, (or) storm infrastructure.”
In order to fulfill city leaders’ vision, Section 30 requires a major financial investment. Southeast First Street, originally built as a rural two-lane road, needs around $10 million in upgrades in order to become an arterial that can support development on such a grand scale. Vancouver plans to reapply for a federal grant program to cover the expense in the upcoming year.
The HP project alone also necessitates a quarter-mile extension of Southeast 184th Avenue, Eiken said.
There’s time. According to a tentative plan for the project, HP aims to continue design work until 2023, when the first phase of construction is scheduled to begin. The company is aiming to move into the new buildings in late 2025.
HP made headlines just last week, when printer and copier company Xerox appeared poised for a hostile takeover of the rival tech giant. The two companies had been engaging in merger negotiations that fell apart in early November. HP then rejected Xerox’s $33.5 billion acquisition bid, accusing its would-be parent company of lowballing.
HP and Xerox have struggled over the last few years as market demand for their products — printers and personal computers, mainly — has sunk.
A statement provided to The Columbian on Nov. 6 said HP had “great confidence in our multi-year strategy and our ability to position the company for continued success.”
A call to the company’s Vancouver office Wednesday afternoon went unanswered.