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News / Business / Clark County Business

Joe’s Crab Shack demolition begins ahead of new Vancouver waterfront development

Site to include boardwalk, restaurants, stores and apartments

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: May 13, 2022, 6:03am
5 Photos
The Renaissance Boardwalk, planned just upstream of the Interstate 5 Bridge, will replace two restaurant buildings east of the Interstate 5 Bridge with 230 apartments, 30 retail spaces and a public boardwalk.
The Renaissance Boardwalk, planned just upstream of the Interstate 5 Bridge, will replace two restaurant buildings east of the Interstate 5 Bridge with 230 apartments, 30 retail spaces and a public boardwalk. (Kirkland Development) Photo Gallery

The wrecking ball will swing on both sides of the Interstate 5 Bridge in Vancouver today. Even as the last of the Red Lion Hotel at the Quay disappears, Kirkland Development plans to start demolition of the former Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant.

Joe’s, which closed permanently in 2020, and the surrounding 2 acres will become the Renaissance Boardwalk project, which will add 230 apartments to the waterfront, plus restaurants, retail space and public access along the river.

Longtime local fixture Who-Song & Larry’s restaurant is part of the plan, both now and in the future, according to Kirkland.

“We look forward to being a part of this exceptional new development,” said Randy Sharpe, CEO of Xperience Restaurant Group, which owns the Mexican-style eatery. Who-Song & Larry’s plans to remain open during the construction project.

As envisioned, the project will include two main buildings totaling about 400,000 square feet. An underground parking structure will include up to 100 charging stations for electric vehicles. As part of its development agreement with the city of Vancouver, the project will be built to a LEED Gold level of energy efficiency and sustainability standards.

Public amenities will include a new boardwalk section of the Waterfront Renaissance Trail that will connect to the proposed Lewis and Clark Regional Trail. The building’s public lobby will display the first land survey marker in the state of Washington, which is currently on the site and will be saved.

“This site has importance historically and is a place of significance on our waterfront. The Renaissance Boardwalk will be a gathering site for visitors and residents alike,” said Dana Gardner, director of project development for Kirkland Development.

The work that starts today only includes demolition of the vacant former Crab Shack, which has lately been a source of fires, vandalism and transient activity.

Liz Fuller, a spokeswoman for Kirkland, said pre-construction planning is still in progress for the rest of the project, including removal of the rickety, unsafe fishing pier.

Once the project launches, Kirkland anticipates it should take about 30 months to complete.

Many uses over the years

According to Columbian archives, both restaurant buildings on the site were built at the same time. Who-Song & Larry’s opened Nov. 19, 1981, and has been popular ever since.

The building to be demolished was initially the Bridgetender restaurant. Beginning in April 1984, it was home to The Chart House, an upscale chain seafood restaurant. In 2003, Landry’s, the parent company of both The Chart House and Joe’s Crab Shack, converted it from one brand to the other.

Other uses for the Renaissance Boardwalk site over the decades include a Readymix Concrete batch plant and a U.S. Coast Guard station. The concrete steps leading to the Coast Guard’s former dock are still visible near Who-Song & Larry’s.

Even as the former Crab Shack is taken down and hauled away, finishing touches continue on Kirkland’s Hotel Indigo and condominium tower project just downstream at The Waterfront Vancouver.

The $150 million project, perhaps the most luxurious and complicated retail project ever attempted in Vancouver, is due to be finished by summer after four years of construction.

It will include an eight-story hotel with a rooftop bar, a branch of the El Gaucho steakhouse chain, and 13 Coins, a Seattle-area eatery that offers upscale meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Additional tenants include Evoke Winery and Amelie, an aesthetic beauty spa, plus a small liquor store.

Condominiums in the 12-story tower are priced at $840,000 and up.