A rare type of building development from Hurley Development is nearing completion in Vancouver’s Uptown Village, in a spot soon to be next to the area’s only grocery store.
The new building, called Navalia, sits at 1600 Washington St. It is a 73-unit apartment building built atop a one-level historic building from 1946 that was once occupied by Bennett Paper & Supply. It’s due to be finished in October, which would make it a 365-day build.
The building will hold studios, loft studios, one- and two-bedroom units, and the bottom floor will hold a major national restaurant in a 7,600-square-foot space that Ryan Hurley, president of Hurley Development, said he couldn’t disclose until later. The building will hold 33 parking spaces.
About 2½ years ago, Hurley came across the property and thought it would be a great addition to the Uptown Village scene, where new apartment buildings, restaurants and bars are opening.
“I saw a gap in downtown for single professionals,” Hurley said.
The theme of Navalia is “safe harbor,” which is the translation from Latin. It can be seen in the design of the building, especially its roof, to resemble a ship. It’s an homage to the Kaiser Shipyards workers who came to Vancouver during World War II to build battleships, Hurley said.
To pull off the Navalia’s construction, workers peeled off the roof, reinforced beams and replaced the concrete foundation. They found old rulers from the 1930s, an industrial weight scale that Hurley wants to preserve and display, and an old service elevator in the middle of the building from the basement to the street-level floor.
“I wanted to preserve some of the characteristics of the building, especially the timbers. It’s hard to find these old timbers,” said Hurley, as he pointed to the original ceiling on the first floor.
Workers essentially built the foundations for the new upper levels through the middle of the original historic building.
“It’s arguably harder to build a building like this,” Hurley said. “But we wanted to make sure we’re connected with the history of the community.”
The original fireproof concrete building began construction in 1946 and was meant to house Bennett Paper & Supply’s goods. The development was estimated to be $30,000 at the time, according to The Columbian’s archives. The new Navalia Apartments building, in contrast, is a $30 million project, Hurley said.
The city of Vancouver has a structural engineering firm on retainer that reviews large projects, such as Navalia Apartments, to ensure the building is structurally sound, according to Chad Eiken, community development director.
“That is the only building I can think of where a developer has built on top of an existing building (the fourth tower of Vancouvercenter might be the only other one),” he wrote to The Columbian in an email.
Hurley Development and Ten Talents Investments 24 LLC bought the building in March 2020 for $2.2 million. LSW Architects designed the building, and Talents construction is building it. Thorofare Capital funded a $16,850,000 construction loan for Navalia Apartments.
Hurley is still seeking a management company for the apartments, and leasing will begin three months before opening, he said. They have not established a rental rate yet. The building will also integrate technology to a high degree and include keyless door entries, smart HVAC and high-speed gigafiber internet.