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Oct. 24, 2020

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Sale breathes new life into old Vancouver fire station

Redevelopment next for 1940s-era Shumway building

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
The Vancouver City Council sold the city's old Fire Station 2 location in the Shumway neighborhood to Portland-based developer Bango Building, LLC. There's no plan yet for the 0.3-acre site.
The Vancouver City Council sold the city's old Fire Station 2 location in the Shumway neighborhood to Portland-based developer Bango Building, LLC. There's no plan yet for the 0.3-acre site. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A vacant 1940s-era fire station located just off Main Street in Vancouver has been sold to a Portland-based developer with a history of revamping old buildings.

At its regular meeting Monday evening, the city council unanimously agreed to sell the former Fire Station 2 site, located at 400 E. 37th St., to Bango Building LLC for $610,000. Profits from the sale will go into Vancouver’s Fire Capital Fund.

“They are a company that purchases property and redevelops it, and leases it out while they maintain ownership,” Linda Carlson, Vancouver’s property management specialist, told the council.

According to sale documents, the city received five offers on the property. Bango Building’s was the highest. A 2018 appraisal of the property found it was worth $430,000.

There’s no plan yet for the space, Carlson added. Bango Building is aiming to secure a tenant before they redevelop the property to suit the tenant’s needs. The company representative listed on the sale documents, Phil Coutrakon, did not return The Columbian’s request for comment.

The old fire station is located in the Shumway neighborhood, just north of Uptown Village. Over the last five years, new apartments, restaurants, and small retail shops have cropped up in Uptown Village, infusing the northern drag of Main Street with a fresh jolt of character.

Shumway, though it abuts some of the new development, hasn’t seen a comparable surge of investments.

When the Vancouver City Council declared the old Fire Station 2 as surplus property back in 2015, rumors about the future of the space started buzzing around the Shumway neighborhood. Three years ago, residents told The Columbian they’d like to see the space become a cafe or a community center — a place that could bring people together.

Upon hearing about the news of the sale Wednesday, Shumway Neighborhood Association Chair John Caton said he would have liked to see the city retain the property and transform it into a fire and policing museum.

But money is tight for projects like that now, he acknowledged, and any news at this point is good news.

“I’m just happy to hear that something’s happening. It’s been sitting there vacant for much too long,” Caton said.

Caton added that he hopes the new owner will retain the historic structure and breathe new life into it.

“You hate to see older buildings get torn down, especially ones that have a unique character like that one does,” Caton said. “It’ll be interesting to see what kind of plan they have for that space.”

The building is just shy of 3,000 square feet, sitting on 0.3 acres of land.

Improving emergency response

The former Fire Station 2 property has been vacant since 2018, when the Vancouver Fire Department opened a new station near the intersection of East Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards.

The shift to the east — identified as a necessity in the city’s 2014 Long Range Facilities Plan — was meant to eliminate a hot spot of slow fire response times.

According to a report last year from then-Chief Joe Molina of the Vancouver Fire Department, the change worked. In 2017, fire call response times in that portion of central Vancouver were the worst in the city, with engines slowed by ever-increasing traffic on the city’s east-west arterials. By 2018, the problem had essentially disappeared, thanks to the new station location, Molina reported.