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May 29, 2020

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New ‘Gateway’ takes shape in east Vancouver

First project in Columbia Palisades area breaks ground in east Vancouver

By , Columbian business reporter
6 Photos
The Columbia Palisades construction site, as seen on Jan. 13 from on top of the bluff at the northeast corner.
The Columbia Palisades construction site, as seen on Jan. 13 from on top of the bluff at the northeast corner. (Photos by Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A planned assisted living facility has joined the roster of projects slated for the Columbia Palisades area off of Highway 14, the latest in a series developments that are planned to transform the former east Vancouver rock quarry into a major commercial and residential hub.

Plans for the redevelopment were announced in 2016, but until recently work at the site has focused on grading the area and putting in new roads. That changed late last year when crews kicked off construction of a new Vancouver Clinic building.

Other projects aren’t far behind, including condos, single-family homes, townhomes, an office building and now the senior living center. Ed Freeman, vice president of Columbia Palisades Corp., said he’s in talks with a number of other developers to try to land the cornerstone piece of the project: a mixed-use development to form the core of the future community.

Senior living center

Plans for the assisted living facility first surfaced in late December. A pre-application submitted to the city of Vancouver calls for a seven-story assisted living building with approximately 150 units that would be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, along with a 28-unit memory care floor.

The facility would include a 15,000-square-foot common amenity space for residents with a dining room, commercial kitchen, bistro, wellness center, salon and activity room. There would also be a surface parking lot with approximately 92 spaces.

It would be built on a 1.9-acre property next to the traffic circle where Columbia Palisades Drive meets Brady Road. The packet lists the proposed project name as Holden Columbia Palisades.

The pre-application was submitted by Seattle-based Urbal Architecture PLLC. A pre-application conference with the city is scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 6. The project comes from Phoenix-based Alliance Realty Partners, a multifamily housing development company with a national footprint and a $20 billion real estate portfolio, according to its website.

The company announced in 2015 that it planned to begin an aggressive push into the high-end senior living development market, with more than $1 billion in investments planned for the first few years.

Alliance took the wraps off the first of those projects, an adult community in Tukwila called the Marvelle at Southcenter, in 2019. Another is scheduled to open later this year in San Jose, Calif., with more announced for Bellevue, Delray Beach in Florida and Portland’s Pearl District.

The Holden name appears to be a shared brand name for most of the facilities; the Portland, Bellevue, San Jose and Delray Beach facilities were all announced with the word Holden in the name.

Freeman said Alliance initially reached out about the possibility of an apartment project at Columbia Palisades but decided to make it a senior living facility after viewing the site. The project doesn’t have a start date yet, Freeman said; it still has to go through the permitting process, which is expected to take at least six months.

Quarry site for 135 years

The Columbia Palisades project is a massive redevelopment of a former rock quarry on the north side of Highway 14 where it intersects with 192nd Avenue. The former Fisher’s Quarry operated on the site for 135 years.

The 84-acre redevelopment was announced in 2016 as a partnership between local and Portland-area developers Freeman and Joe Weston, who formed Columbia Palisades Corp.

The company describes the project as an eastern gateway to Vancouver, with a feel similar to Bridgeport Village in Tualatin, Ore., or the Pearl District in Portland, although not as tall — most buildings at Columbia Palisades will be no taller than six stories, according to the project website. The development’s full master plan calls for a hotel, retail and office space, 50 homes and more than 300 apartment and condo units.

“There’s quite a bit to build there,” Freeman said.

The master plan calls for the commercial development concentrated in the lower, central portion of the site. The eastern and northern sides of the site are shaped into graded hillsides along what used to be the edge of the quarry, with luxury housing lots along the tops.

A master plan shows a cluster of about a dozen buildings with parking lots in between and a central pedestrian promenade that runs from the 192nd and Brady Road intersection out to the northeast corner of the site, where it would connect to a pedestrian trail along the base of the bluff on the site’s northern and eastern sides.

In the pipeline

The new Vancouver Clinic is expected to open in November and will be the company’s eighth location. The initial two-story, 26,400-square-foot building is designed to allow for future expansion with the addition of another 30,000-square-foot structure.

The Holden senior living announcement comes about six months after Kirkland Development and Portland architecture firm Otak submitted preliminary plans for the Ledges at Columbia Palisades, a seven-story condo building that is expected to feature between 72 and 90 units.

Nearby, another project called Boulder Ridge from Vancouver-based Romano Capital will add 24 luxury townhomes on a bluff on the south side of the site. Owner Kess Romano said the townhomes will include high-end features such as elevators, and will be targeted at people looking to “downsize and upgrade.” The project is targeting a spring groundbreaking, he said, with the goal of completing the first units by the end of the year.

Hawes Ventures has purchased two parcels totaling 2.3 acres at the intersection of 192nd Avenue and Brady Road. Freeman said the plan for that site involves an office building with retail and restaurant space. Hawes Ventures shares a listed address with Hawes Group, a financial firm based in Vancouver.

There are also 50 single-family home lots along the eastern and northern sides of the development. Thirty-seven of those lots have already been sold to individual buyers, Freeman said, who will build their own custom homes. Two of them have already started construction.

Several pieces of the site are still unclaimed, most notably the central portion surrounded by 192nd Avenue, Brady Road and Columbia Palisades Road. Freeman said he’s in talks with multiple developers about that site, but it’s a long process because it’s the biggest single piece of the development, planned to include apartments, restaurants, offices and retail.

“The 14 acres in the middle of the site is one big mixed-use commercial piece,” he said.

The initial plans called for Columbia Palisades to be fully built out as early as 2020, although the reality has been slower — grading and street work didn’t finish up until late 2018. But now that work is underway on some of the buildings, Freeman said he expects to see the site’s transformation play out at a rapid pace. The central 14-acre piece will likely take about two or three years to develop and build out, he said.