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News / Business / Clark County Business

113 acres in the Columbia Business Center sell in record-setting transaction

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 31, 2024, 4:12pm

A 113-acre Vancouver property along the Columbia River in the Columbia Business Center has sold for a record-setting $96 million.

The sale is the largest single transaction by price for industrial land on record in the Portland-Vancouver market, according to real estate group Newmark.

“This sale represents the rare opportunity to own an industrial site of scale in a market with a dearth of developable land,” said Nick Kucha, Newmark’s vice chairman.

Newmark and Colliers represented the seller in the transaction, which did not include the 27 buildings at the business center.

Newmark wouldn’t disclose the name of the buyer but said the company has owned a portion of the land since 2006.

“As an 18-year partial owner, they have decided to purchase the property in its entirety to continue their long-term stewardship of the site,” said Alexa Nestlerode, public relations and communications manager at Newmark.

The buyer appears to be Portland development company Killian Pacific. It bought the buildings and half the land at Columbia Business Center in 2006, according to The Columbian’s archives.

The Columbia Business Center is one of Vancouver’s few heavy industrial zones. The property lies between state Highway 14, BNSF Railway and the Columbia River. Tenants there have access to not only the railroad and highway but also the business center’s barge slips.

The Columbia Business Center is a mix of old and new buildings. Some date to World War II when the location was home to the Kaiser shipyards.

The Columbia Business Center, totaling 220 acres, includes light industrial, flex and heavy industrial space, as well as outside storage and assembly space.

Among the business center’s 100 or so tenants are Thompson Metal Fab, Skyline CDL School, Columbia Distributing and Vancouver Steel Painters.

Gennadiy Kovalev, CEO of Skyline CDL School, said he hasn’t heard about the sale. He hopes it won’t impact his business.

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“It would be financially destructive to us,” Kovalev said. Commercial driver’s license schools need to be inspected by state and federal regulators, he added. So a move would not be easy.

Kovalev said his school is important to the community because it trains immigrants and people switching careers.

The proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project poses a challenge for the business park. Thompson Metal Fab and other tenants at Columbia Business Center have complained the proposed bridge would hurt their businesses by lowering clearance to 116 feet. They rely on the current bridge’s full 178-foot clearance.

“If the Interstate Bridge Replacement vertical navigation clearance were lowered to 116 feet it would permanently, materially adversely impact the viability of Columbia Business Center for existing and future uses,” Lance Killian of Killian Pacific said in a 2022 letter to the Coast Guard about the bridge project.

For now, the business center will likely remain as is.

“From the depth of our understanding, the buyer intends to continue operating the site in its current condition without disruption for tenants, as they have for the last two decades,” Newmark’s Nestlerode said.