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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Mixed-use project eyed for downtown Washougal

6-story building would have 46 apartments, ground-floor retail

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A Portland real estate company and Washougal property owner have proposed building a mixed-use development — with 46 apartments on the top floors and retail space on the ground floor — in downtown Washougal’s Town Center District.

Edlen & Co. hopes to break ground on the yet-to-be-named $26 million complex in the next several weeks and complete construction by fall 2024, according to Edlen’s co-founder, Matt Edlen.

“The goal of the project is to celebrate Washougal and its place in history,” Edlen said. “You’ve got the new library that’s going in next door, you’ve got the town center (that’s expanding) — there’s been a lot of investment in the evolution and continued growth … This is a project really meant to be very respectful around the values of Washougal, while at the same time giving people an opportunity to connect to a place that, I think, is really unique and really special.”

The proposed development will include 46 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments; 49 off-street mechanized parking stalls; and approximately 1,200 square feet of retail space — which will most likely house a small restaurant or coffee shop and “spaces to hang out,” according to Edlen — within a six-story building. It is to be built on a vacant lot, owned by Washougal developer Wes Hickey, at 1625 Main St.

“We’re very excited to be investing in Washougal,” Edlen said. “The last couple of years have taught us a lot about how we live our lives and what we want in them, and one of those values we’ve heard about is finding places where you have access to the vibrancy of (a large) city for jobs and things like that, but at the same time have access to a lifestyle that gives you a little bit of perspective. We’re very excited to be investing there, and we intend to be there for a long time.”

Edlen said the brand and identity of the complex will be nature-focused.

“Throughout the building, the way we’ve treated the materials, it’s really about connecting back to the fabric of the natural environment around you,” Edlen said. “(The apartments) are designed to be comfortable. In our history, we’ve been one of the leaders in environmental sustainability, and we will continue that with this project as well. With large open windows and a large floor-to-ceiling window wall on the top floor, we want to kind of overwhelm people with the senses of light and air.”

Edlen & Co. applied for a tax exemption through a city program encouraging the construction of more multifamily housing development and redevelopment within designated urban centers to accommodate future population growth and provide places to live close to employment, shopping, entertainment and transit services.

“Right now, that property is vacant, and we’re generating no economic activity or property tax revenue on bare ground,” Washougal City Manager David Scott said during the city council’s May 22 workshop. “We incentivize development. We delay the enhanced property tax revenue for the multifamily portion of the project, not the commercial portion. We get sales tax from the new construction and sales tax from the economic activity and then, after eight years, it’s added to the tax roll.”

Washougal’s Town Center, East Village District, waterfront and E Street are prime locations for multifamily housing, according to Washougal City Planner Mitch Kneipp.

“(The exemption is) to incentivize this type of project because the economics in our community are such that projects potentially don’t pencil out without it,” Scott added. “This incentive is used across the state to good effect in primarily urban centers. There’s a long list of projects in downtown Vancouver, there’s a couple in Camas, and five years from now there will probably be six or seven buildings in Washougal, including several at the port, that will leverage this (exemption).”

Edlen said the apartments will likely rent at or near market rates.

“It’s been really great working with the city of Washougal,” Edlen said. “I think this is a project that very much shares their vision and their own investment in their future growth.”

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