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News / Clark County News

Heights District Development in central Vancouver gains $4M federal grant for infrastructure

Work includes traffic safety improvements and a greenbelt path for pedestrians and cyclists

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 12, 2024, 6:08am

The first federal investment in the Heights District Development in central Vancouver was announced Monday by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania.

The $4 million investment comes from the appropriations package President Joe Biden signed into law Saturday. The money will be used to make initial infrastructure improvements.

The Heights District Development covers 205 acres in central Vancouver, including a 63-acre parcel off Mill Plain Boulevard where Tower Mall used to stand. The project will bring hundreds of residential units — including some for low-income families — as well as commercial space to the area.

“Infrastructure investments like these are necessary in order to transform the up-and-coming Heights District into the economic engine that Vancouver leaders are envisioning,” Cantwell said in a statement.

“Project elements include a Complete Streets Corridor that will enhance traffic safety and provide a greenbelt path for cyclists and pedestrians alongside, but separate from, vehicle traffic,” according to Cantwell’s statement. The project includes two components — the West Gateway and the Grand Loop – and aims to increase safety for all modes of transit, improve access to the district, improve environmental quality, and prepare the area for private sector redevelopment.

Construction of apartment buildings in the neighborhood could start as soon as 2026. Infrastructure work will start before then. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., also requested funding for the project.

“This project, in the heart of Vancouver, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to proactively influence inclusive and sustainable development and sets precedent for future public redevelopment projects in the city,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said in a statement. “This is an exciting moment for the city!”

A handful of Southwest Washington projects received funding Saturday, including $4 million for the preliminary engineering and design of the replacement Hood River-White Salmon Bridge and $1 million for Lower Columbia College in Longview to purchase and install equipment for career and technical education.

“From strengthening clean water systems that keep folks healthy, to building infrastructure farmers and fishermen rely on, to getting the equipment necessary for rural public safety and trades programs — these investments are the nuts and bolts of how government can serve the people,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer