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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver gets $17.5 million in federal funding for Heights District project

205 acre mixed-use, walkable neighborhood planned; money will fund segments of the Grand Loop

By Alexis Weisend, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 24, 2024, 5:22pm

The city of Vancouver received about $17.5 million in federal funding Monday through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grant Program for its upcoming project in Vancouver’s Heights neighborhood.

The funding will help kick-start the first phase of development for the project, according to Amy Zoltie, project manager with the city of Vancouver.

“Investing in projects like this one — to build thriving new districts within Vancouver, produce more housing, especially for underserved residents, and create new jobs and opportunities — is exactly why I created the RAISE grant program in the first place,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The Heights District is envisioned as a 205-acre mixed-use, walkable neighborhood with affordable housing. City staff envision it as a “20-minute community” where people can walk to stores, restaurants, parks, schools and transit stations.

The community will be where Vancouver’s first shopping mall, Tower Mall, used to be, at the intersection of East Mill Plain and MacArthur boulevards.

The funding will be used to construct two segments of a new street, the Grand Loop, a two-way complete street with a linear park on one side of the street, Zoltie said.

“The Grand Loop will knit the new development together and connect the Heights District with the surrounding neighborhoods on bike and foot, creating a more pedestrian and bike friendly environment,” she said in an email.

This will support the first phase of private development that will bring affordable housing and new retail to the area, she said.

The entire project will create about 1,300 new units of affordable housing, in addition to an estimated 200 long-term jobs and commercial space, according to a news release. The city owns about half of the parcels within the Heights District development area and plans to make them affordable.

The grant will help build the infrastructure needed to support these homes including new roads, bike lanes, ADA-accessible sidewalks and a wastewater system, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in the news release.

“Every city in our state needs affordable housing, including Vancouver,” Cantwell said.

“Safe, walkable infrastructure is essential for supporting new small businesses, affordable housing and essential services in the Heights District,” said U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania. “By helping secure new RAISE funding, we’re building on the federal dollars I brought home for the district’s redevelopment earlier this year — that way we can keep folks moving, boost our local economy and support new jobs in the area.”

Zoltie said it’s rare for a local government to receive a RAISE grant award in an initial application.

“The development of this infrastructure is a vital and necessary step in implementing the Heights District Plan,” she said.

Previously, the development project received $4 million from the 2024 federal appropriations package and one of the 2023 Governor’s Smart Communities Awards.

City staff say the project could start as soon as 2026.