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March 7, 2016
Gramor Development has started construction on the first building in a 32-acre mixed-use development called The Waterfront Vancouver along the Columbia River.
The seven-story structure is in Block 6 of the development that will cover 21 blocks. M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is leasing 18,000 of the 61,000 square feet of office space in the building, which will also have 17,000 square feet of retail and underground parking.
Gramor said in a press release that construction will start this spring on Block 12, one of two restaurant-focused blocks in the project. Spokane-based Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar will lease 8,320 square feet there.
Gramor of Tualatin, Oregon, and its investment partners are developing The Waterfront Vancouver as Columbia Waterfront LLC.
A Gramor representative said it could have up to 1.2 million square feet of office space, 3,300 housing units and 250,000 square feet of retail and mixed-use space. Some of the property may be sold to other developers.
The heart of the project will be on Columbia Way between Grant and Esther streets. Columbia Waterfront LLC bought most of the land in 2008 but three acres are owned by the Port of Vancouver USA and leased to the LLC in a long-term arrangement.
The city rezoned the site from industrial to city center after Gramor acquired it, allowing commercial uses and housing.
Until 1996, Boise Cascade operated on the property, which was largely cut off from downtown by a railroad berm, said Chad Eiken, director of Vancouver's community and economic development department. But he said the city recently spent $45 million on two street connections through the berm, using state and federal money as well as $8 million from Gramor.
The city plans to start construction this summer on a $25 million, 7.3-acre waterfront park that spans the Gramor property. Gramor provided the land and is contributing $3 million, Eiken said.
PWL of Vancouver, B.C., is designing the park and BergerABAM is on the team. Larry Kirkland is designing a cable-stay pier and water feature.
Eiken said the city's multifamily market is hot, with 3,400 units — 818 of them downtown — in review or under construction.
Gramor has butted heads with the Port of Vancouver USA over its plan to build an oil terminal because the trains would go past Gramor's site.
The port plans its own mixed-use development adjacent to Gramor's. Katy Brooks, the port's director of economic development, said the parties have a “pretty good working relationship,” and both want the waterfront to succeed.
Gramor's project team includes HDJ Design Group, civil engineer; Kittelson & Associates, traffic engineer; Flowing Solutions, shoreline engineer; and PBS Environmental + Engineering, environmental engineer.
Gramor Development is focused on mixed-use retail and office properties in Portland and Vancouver.
Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.