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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver’s 192nd corridor reimagined

Master planned projects changing the face of former mining, farm sites between Vancouver, Camas

By Anthony Macuk, Columbian business reporter
Published: April 11, 2021, 6:05am
10 Photos
The Columbia Palisades development, as seen from the bluff that lines the northern and eastern sides of the site. The eastern half of the former Fisher Quarry is poised to become a major development hub along the 192nd Avenue corridor.  At top, Romano Capital recently wrapped up work on the Westridge apartment complex, one of four projects that the company has been working on within the 192nd Avenue corridor. Company President Kess Romano said he sees the eastern corridor and Ridgefield as Clark County&#039;s two biggest development hot spots at the moment.
The Columbia Palisades development, as seen from the bluff that lines the northern and eastern sides of the site. The eastern half of the former Fisher Quarry is poised to become a major development hub along the 192nd Avenue corridor. At top, Romano Capital recently wrapped up work on the Westridge apartment complex, one of four projects that the company has been working on within the 192nd Avenue corridor. Company President Kess Romano said he sees the eastern corridor and Ridgefield as Clark County's two biggest development hot spots at the moment. (Photos by Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Commercial buildings and subdivisions line most of the length of 192nd Avenue today, but as recently as 30 years ago, none of that bustling corridor existed – not even the road itself. A viewer flying over today’s eastern edge of Vancouver in the early 1990s would have seen an expanse of farmland, dotted with a few scattered houses bookended by a pair of massive mining sites. The only large-scale piece of developed land was the local Hewlett-Packard campus on Southeast 34th Street.

“That was all mining and farmland when I got here back in 1992,” said Chad Eiken, the city of Vancouver’s economic development director. “192nd wasn’t even a road at that point.”

A series of annexations extended the Vancouver city limits rapidly eastward during the 1990s, bringing a steady march of subdivisions and residential development out to what is now 192nd Avenue. Commercial development followed starting in the mid-2000s, rapidly transforming the road into a central retail corridor.

Today, the corridor is headed for a new kind of development boom – one that will focus on reimagining the mining sites that defined the area 30 years ago.

“For many years, all that gravel was being used for other construction, other developments in the region, and now those have sort of reached the end of their life cycle,” Eiken said.

Some remaining streetside properties are still filling in one by one, but the emerging round of construction will be driven by a quartet of much larger redevelopment sites: the former English Pit mine now known as Section 30, the former HP campus now known as the Vancouver Innovation Center, and the eastern and western halves of the former Fisher Quarry. The eastern half is now known as Columbia Palisades.

Two decades of growth

Vancouver-based Romano Capital is becoming a major player in the current round of development along 192nd Avenue, with one apartment complex recently completed, another underway and two projects planned or underway in the Columbia Palisades area.

The company’s president, Kess Romano, said the corridor’s popularity with developers stems from a combination of readily available infrastructure, a growing residential population and an ideal location where the two cities meet. Vancouver’s growth and Camas’ determination to diversify its economy beyond the paper mill business set the stage for the corridor to emerge, he said.

“You had kind of this convergence of Camas that had been focused on the (technology) industry and Vancouver moving out further east,” he said.

Aerial imagery on Clark County’s Geographic Information System maps illustrates the progress of the corridor’s development, starting with the eastward march of housing construction during the 1990s. By 2004 the road was finished except for the segment through the Fisher Quarry to reach the new Highway 14 interchange. The connection was completed by 2007, by which point residential neighborhoods had spread to cover significant portions of both sides of the corridor.

The first major commercial projects had also appeared: The Walmart and Home Depot along 192nd Avenue at the east end of the fledgling Columbia Tech Center, and a handful of commercial buildings surrounding the intersection with Southeast 34th Street. Shahala Middle School, Illahee Elementary School and Union High School were all built along or near the corridor between 2002 and 2007.

Retail development slowed a couple years after that – stalled by the 2008 recession, according to Romano – with only a couple new additions at the east end of the Columbia Tech Center. But housing development continued, and in 2009 Fisher Investments broke ground on a 150-acre corporate campus east of the 192nd corridor, which would eventually become its headquarters.

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“After things started warming up a bit, 192nd really just blew up,” Romano said.

Vancouver-based Kirkland Development kicked off the next wave with the 192nd Plaza project at the intersection with Southeast 20th Street in 2010, followed a couple years later by 192nd Station, a commercial project that spanned the distance between Southeast 20th and 15th streets on the east side of 192nd Avenue.

More Kirkland projects followed, including the Candlewood Suites hotel in 2016 near the southwest corner of 192nd and 20th, the nearby 192nd Plaza West mixed-used commercial building in 2017, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the middle of 192nd Station in 2018 and finally a medical office building in 2019 at the north end of the development.

In the northern half of the corridor, Costco and the Lacamas Crossing retail buildings arrived on the scene in 2011 at the intersection with Southeast First Street, and Hurley Development opened Union Station in 2017, a pair of commercial buildings along the east side of 192nd Avenue north of Costco.

“I think the difference now is that all the residential is there, and residences need supporting services, and so only recently has there been more commercial development in the 192nd corridor,” Eiken said. “You’re seeing restaurants, other services, hotels, things like that.”

The next round

The new round of development sites are big enough to have their own master plans – or in the case of Section 30, a subarea plan with multiple master plans in the works for different parts of the site. The roughly 550-acre former mine extends west from 192nd Avenue at the north end of the corridor.

Planned projects for the site include a new corporate campus for HP, a commercial retail project at the intersection of 192nd and First Street and the Harmony Master Plan, a mixed-use project to the west of the Harmony Sports Complex.

The Vancouver Innovation Center, which extends west from the corridor north of 34th Street, includes all of the former HP buildings at the company’s original Vancouver site and the surrounding campus. The site’s owners, New Blueprint Partners and Rabina, are working on a plan to renovate the buildings and develop the rest of the 179-acre campus with a mixture of office, light industrial and residential uses.

The master plan for Columbia Palisades – the 84-acre eastern half of the Fisher Quarry – emerged in 2016 and the following three years saw the initial roads and infrastructure put in place on the east side of 192nd Avenue, setting the stage for commercial and residential development to kick off with the groundbreaking of a new Vancouver Clinic location in 2019.

Vancouver-based Hurley Development recently submitted a proposed master plan for the 98-acre western half of the former quarry, on the other side of 192nd Avenue.

“It’s in that old quarry, so there’s pretty cool features that they’re proposing to integrate into the park space, maybe even having a walkway up to the top of one of the rock outcroppings for people to get views out to the Columbia,” Eiken said.

Here’s a look at all the 192nd Avenue corridor projects that are planned, under construction or recently completed:

Harmony Master Plan

Location: Within Section 30

Developer: Rotschy Inc.

Status: Planned

The Harmony Master Plan site consists of about 181 acres north of First Street within Section 30 to the west of the Harmony Sports Complex. The applicant is still working with the city on a development agreement, according to Eiken, and a land use application is not yet under review. The city held a pre-application meeting with Rotschy in February 2020.

The project as currently proposed would include a 242-lot subdivision, two multifamily developments totaling 240 units and 210 units, respectively, and flex space, according to Eiken.

HP Master Plan

Location: Within Section 30

Developer: HP Inc.

Status: Planned

The city first announced in December 2019 that it had reached a deal with HP Inc. to develop a new corporate campus on a 68-acre portion of Section 30. The proposed project would be built along a northward extension of Northeast 184th Avenue and would proceed in phases. The first phase would include two of five planned buildings at an approximate cost of $50 million to $80 million.

The city views the HP project as a catalyst that could potentially kickstart further development at Section 30, according to Eiken, and will fund some of the necessary infrastructure improvements during the first phase.

Lacamas Square

Location: Northwest corner of East First Street and Northeast 192nd Avenue (within Section 30)

Developer: Gramor Development

Status: Planned

Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development is probably best known locally as the lead developer for The Waterfront Vancouver, but the company has developed a smattering of other commercial sites in Clark County such as the Battle Ground Market Center and Hazel Dell Square.

The proposed Lacamas Square project would be built on an undeveloped 8.5-acre parcel at First Street and 192nd Avenue that forms the southeast corner of the Section 30 site. Gramor’s pre-application packet outlines plans for six buildings which would be mostly retail and would include at least two restaurants and a coffee shop.

1st Street Village

Location: 19814 S.E. First St.

Developer: Romano Capital

Status: Under construction

Located a short distance east of 192nd Avenue, 1st Street Village is an $80 million project from Romano Capital that will feature 115 multifamily residential units, nine extended-stay hotel units and nearly 45,000 square feet of commercial space.

Tru by Hilton

Location: 311 N.E. 192nd Ave.

Developer: Hurley Development

Status: Planned

The proposed hotel project would be a four-story, 36,000-square-foot structure with 82 rooms, located on a small undeveloped parcel directly northeast of the 14,000-square-foot Union Station retail development, which Hurley Development built in 2017.

The Tru brand is owned by Hilton Worldwide, the parent company of the Hilton hotel chain.

Kirkland car wash and medical building

Location: 1821 S.E. 192nd Ave.

Developer: Kirkland Development

Status: Planned

The proposed car wash and medical building would be the latest in a series of Kirkland Development projects along the 192nd corridor between 15th and 25th streets, and would be located within 192nd Station.

192nd West Lofts

Location: 2220 S.E. 192nd Ave.

Developer: Kirkland Development

Status: Recently completed

Located to the south of the Candlewood Suites and 192nd Plaza West projects, the 192nd West Lofts complex consists of a trio of luxury apartment buildings that collectively offer 163 units. The last of the three wrapped up construction in January.

192nd Westridge Lofts

Location: 2311 S.E. 192nd Ave.

Developer: Romano Capital

Status: Recently completed

Located across the street from the Kirkland apartments, the Westridge Lofts building is a 130-unit apartment complex from Romano Capital. The project wrapped up construction in February.

Vancouver Innovation Center

Location: 18110 S.E. 34th St.

Developer: New Blueprint Partners and Rabina

Status: Planned

The preexisting office and industrial buildings at the center of the former HP campus will form the core of the planned Vancouver Innovation Center. HP sold the campus to SEH America in 2009, and New Blueprint Partners and Rabina reached a deal to acquire it last year.

The new owners’ plan includes renovating the existing structures and building out the rest of the campus to include light industrial, commercial, office and residential uses. As a first step, the developers have asked the city to rezone the area from light industrial to mixed use. Construction on the northern half of the campus is tentatively planned to run through 2025, followed by construction to the south.

New Fisher Investments building

Location: North end of Fisher Investments Campus

Developer: Fisher Investments

Status: Recently completed

The newest addition to the Fisher Investments corporate campus sits at the north end of the site, a short way east of 192nd Avenue along 20th Street. The five-story structure is the fourth office building at the 150-acre Fisher Creek campus.

The project wrapped up in the fall of 2020 following about two years of construction. The tower has enough room to add about 1,100 employees to the company’s existing staff of about 1,700 at the Camas campus.

Columbia Palisades

Location: Fisher Quarry eastern half

Developer: Columbia Palisades Corp., others

Status: Under construction

Overall planning and development of Columbia Palisades, the eastern half of the former Fisher Quarry, is being guided by Columbia Palisades Corp., a joint venture from Portland-based developers Ed Freeman and Joe Weston, with other developers handling individual projects within the site.

The Vancouver Clinic opened a branch at the site last fall, and several houses along the area’s northern and eastern bluff are completed or under construction. At the southeast corner, Romano Capital is building a luxury townhome project called Boulder Ridge. The company is also planning a large multifamily project at Columbia Palisades, according to Kess Romano.

Other projects on the docket include the Ledges at Columbia Palisades, a planned seven-story condo building from Kirkland Development and Portland Architecture firm Otak, and a planned senior living facility from Phoenix-based Alliance Realty Partners.

Riverview Gateway

Location: Fisher Quarry western half

Developer: Hurley Development

Status: Planned

Hurley Development released a proposed master plan for the western half of the former Fisher Quarry last fall, naming the project Riverview Gateway. The plans called for at least 17 buildings with a mix of commercial, residential and industrial uses.

Columbian business reporter