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April 10, 2021

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Vancouver developers field questions about plans for former HP campus

Nearby residents ask about parks, traffic in virtual meeting

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:

The developers behind the planned Vancouver Innovation Center project held a second virtual neighborhood meeting last week to field questions about their plans for the former HP campus in east Vancouver.

A significant portion of the discussion focused on several nearby residents’ hope of seeing more park spaces in the area.

New Blueprint Partners and real estate firm Rabina, both based in New York, recently purchased the former HP office complex for $35 million. New Blueprint principals Ron Schinik and Marc Esrig said they hope to finalize the purchase of the surrounding 179-acre campus next year.

Their plan calls for renovating the existing 700,000 square feet of office space and building up the rest of the campus as a mixed-use project with both single- and multi-family housing. The plan would also set aside the northwest corner of the campus for a potential future middle school.

About 40 people joined the virtual meeting Thursday afternoon, including many who said they lived near the site. The campus is bordered by the Fisher’s Landing East neighborhood to the north and west and Fisher’s Creek to the south. There were a variety of questions, but the two biggest topics by far were parks and traffic.

Neighbors pointed to what they described as a relative shortage of parks east of Interstate 205 and said they hoped to see more of the campus transformed into public green spaces. A change.org petition calling for the creation of a community park at the site began circulating in advance of the meeting, and had gathered 250 signatures as of Monday.

“They’re including some trails, but it’s not the same thing as playgrounds, picnic areas, lawns for people to use,” Fisher’s Landing East resident Anna Sjoberg-Smith said before the meeting.

Esrig and Schinik responded in the meeting by pointing to a 9-acre forested area at the northeast corner of their site concept map, as well as a neighborhood park in the western part of the site and open spaces on either side of a planned row of multi-family housing buildings along the site’s eastern side.

Esrig said the developers didn’t want to turn the forested space over to the city because they want to maintain the ability to manage the area; he said they want the green spaces to be open to the public and would be willing to create deed restrictions or covenants to prevent future development in those areas.

Both developers also said that converting a larger portion of the campus into park space wouldn’t pencil out. Schinik noted that the campus has been there for decades but the city hasn’t sought to acquire any of it. Esrig also said that the park deficit calculation did not account for privately owned community parks.

In response to questions about residential building sizes, Esrig said there would likely be between 125 and 190 lots of varying sizes in the planned single-family home section along the north side of the site.

The proposed multi-family buildings on the west side would be two or three stories, with other buildings at the site possibly reaching four or five stories, according to Esrig. He said development along the west side would also be set back from the street to address privacy concerns from neighbors.

Some of the attendees also expressed concerns about the density of the development, both in terms of noise and traffic congestion. Schinik responded by drawing a distinction between heavy industrial spaces and the light industrial uses that New Blueprint is including in its proposed zoning change for the area.

A traffic study is still to come, but Schinik also emphasized the project’s goal of creating a walkable neighborhood with local amenities immediately available.

“You won’t have to drive to anything you don’t want to drive to,” he said.

The project’s next major public meeting will be a Vancouver Planning Commission workshop, scheduled for Dec. 8.

Correction: This story has been updated to specify that New Blueprint Partners purchased the site in partnership with Rabina.

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