Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Dec. 7, 2022

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End of the line for Red Lion hotel sign

Crew removes iconic feature as port’s Terminal 1 project progresses

By , Columbian Editor
Published:
7 Photos
Port of Vancouver officials look on as the iconic sign for the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay comes down Thursday morning. The sign removal is a part of a larger project to demolish the former hotel and rebuild Terminal 1, extending the district established by the new Waterfront Vancouver.
Port of Vancouver officials look on as the iconic sign for the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay comes down Thursday morning. The sign removal is a part of a larger project to demolish the former hotel and rebuild Terminal 1, extending the district established by the new Waterfront Vancouver. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

There are no more rooms at the inn. And now, no iconic sign, either.

Demolition contractors used a large crane Thursday morning to remove the 100-foot by 20-foot Red Lion Hotel at the Quay sign from the roof at the property, just downstream of the Interstate 5 Bridge. The rest of the structure may be gone as soon as the end of this month.

The demolition of the old hotel and convention center, for 50 years the hub of Vancouver society, has been underway since the beginning of the year.

It’s been a tricky job, because much of the building sits on pilings over the water and was full of hazards such as asbestos. Abysmal weather and a desire to salvage as much as possible for reuse made the process even slower, explained Jonathan Eder, executive project sponsor for the Port of Vancouver.

The port has owned the property since it was a warehouse used to ship Clark County’s famous prunes. Now that the hotel rooms and facades have been demolished, the century-old warehouse is now once again visible, even as Keystone Contracting works to strip its interior and demolish its shell under terms of a $1.4 million contract.

As the layers have been peeled back, various parts of the old structure have been uncovered and saved. Some of the large windows where restaurant and bar patrons gazed at river views went to build a greenhouse. Large old-growth timber roof beams, perhaps as many as 30, will be saved for a future public market proposed for the site. Handrails and clerestory windows are being salvaged. And the red neon letters N-O-E-L will be removed from the “Red Lion Hotel” sign to be used at a local Christmas market.

As cold rain fell Thursday morning on the hotel’s shrinking carcass, it was hard to envision what may come.

Demolition workers in bright safety vests climbed a series of ladders to the old sheet metal sign, which had been cut into three irregular pieces, with wire slings attached temporarily to tops of each slice. When all was in readiness, a crew hooked the slings onto the Barnhart Crane’s hook.

The first piece, closest to the bridge, was removed at 10:24 a.m. The beige-painted metal, discolored in a recent fire, still bore the letters “Red” and “At” on one side and “Hotel” and “y” on the other. The middle section followed, and then the downstream piece, closest to the new AC Hotel Vancouver Waterfront, where furniture was being installed and at least one person could be seen working in an office prior to its opening next month.

Once the old Red Lion/warehouse structure is gone, two things will happen to the site:

  • The parking lot in front of the hotel will be fenced and used as construction staging for the new Zoom.info building, due to break ground this summer on port property across West Columbia Way, next to the BNSF Railway berm.
  • The quay itself, which consists of a wood and concrete wharf atop some 800 wooden pilings, will be removed. It will be replaced with a similar-sized quay supported by 150 stronger concrete and steel pilings. That work is still in the permitting phases, Eder said.

The port’s vision for the property is to build a public market, with indoor and outdoor space for shops, food and entertainment. The market will complement not only the AC hotel, but the port’s revamped public dock and amphitheater space. That project is nearing completion.

“We’re really excited to see this work done and be another step closer to the marketplace being built here,” Eder said.

The quay is nearly gone, but its legacy as a community hub will live on for generations.

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