Port officials wanted to create a site for residential and commercial development with open spaces and landscape. The port’s mission and intention is to maintain public access to the waterfront in any future development. There’s design plans for a plaza with a nearby retail space, hotel, and office park. The development will not be like Portland’s South Waterfront or like Vancouver’s Waterfront. The port will be unique and developed with the needs of Camas and Washougal in mind, following a one-of-a-kind digital marketing strategy designed for the area.
There is a direct access to the Columbia River as well as a walking trail connecting the port with downtown Washougal. Water Access projects funds public shoreline access, boat launches, and fishing docks to allow more opportunities for water recreation. The Port of Camas-Washougal used this grant to develop a 2.4 acre water access area on the Washougal waterfront land along the Columbia River, creating a paved and rocked trail that will provide accessibility to the Columbia River shoreline for pedestrians and non-motorized boaters.
The port purchased 11 acres from Killian Pacific, a commercial real estate development and investment company based in Vancouver, for $5.98 million. The land is located on part of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property, at 335 S. “A” St., Washougal. Killian Pacific owns approximately 8.5 of the east waterfront property which is where the Vancouver-based commercial real estate developer will develop a residential complex with the overall project consisting of 150-250 rental units. This is located adjacent to the port’s pedestrian waterfront trail, soon-to-be natural play area, and a one-acre park. The residential units will be created before the commercial development as the residential piece is intended to help drive the commercial side.
Port of Camas-Washougal Executive Director David Ripp stated that:
“The port paid more per acre than Killian because of the location and proximity to infrastructure. The property the port purchased is more desirable for commercial development. Even though it’s zoned the same, there is a difference in value when it comes to the type of development you are placing on the site. Commercial is more valuable than residential.”.
The Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail finished building in 2016 with it connecting the port property to both the downtowns in Washougal and Camas. According to the proposal, roughly $16.3 million has been invested in the waterfront so far with the property costing $12 million, $3.3 million into building the waterfront park and trail, $785,000 for the Department of Ecology cleanup of the site, the conceptual design, and $215,000 for the master planning.
Because art advocates favor cultural center near Columbia River, the Port of C-W Commissioner Bill Ward hopes the waterfront development will include a place for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as well as a place for other musicians, actors, actresses can perform. Ward stated, “We have an opportunity to do something really novel and iconic.”. Combined with the conference center, the cultural center complement and encourage development of a corporate office park which will bring well-paying jobs into the community. However, there is the financial factor to consider for building a cultural center. It’s a possibility that there’s not be enough financial capacity to build one so a private venture or a public private partnership may be needed.
The CEO of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, Paul Dennis, stated that by working in partnership with Camas’ destination downtown and Washougal’s growing business development, the waterfront property should help improve the economy of east Clark County as it is bridging the two areas’ happenings. It can become its own speciality district similar to what is seen in Portland with places like Sellwood, Northwest 23rd, and Mississippi. It’s the entry to the Columbia Gorge, so there’s many natural amenities for people to explore along with various other places.
The Port Commissioner John Spencer envisions the waterfront will be “an important satellite community, recreation, and tourist center to the two towns” 20 to 30 years from now. He also wishes for the Washougal waterfront to have shopping, restaurants, and offices. The restaurants would also complement the office use and provide a reason for people to visit the waterfront.
Larry Keister, another Port Commission, envisions a boutique hotel with a conference center, office space, as well as co-op offices that can be used by business professionals who work from their homes and need a temporary space to meet clients and hold meetings. He also wishes to see a festival street that can be blocked off for special events, farmers markets, and art and craft fairs. There are many opportunities and possibilities for Port of Camas-Washougal Waterfront and the property development is still ongoing.