I have been watching the news on the developments for Block Ten just north of Vancouver Center. Plans for an 11 Story mixed use building with a grocer on the ground level have been scratched. Gramor Development, one of the best at developing grocer and neighborhood retail has been unable to secure a grocery tenant. According to an article last week in the Columbian, the grocery industry is skittish about brick and mortar locations under the changing landscape including giant Amazon and their deliver service.
I still feel that Amazon and other delivery services are shacked by the higher security residential building in a downtown environment. I believe that Downtown can support a grocery store with a lower than average shopper density than suburban stores need because of the secure space deterrent to delivery.
But the city, rightfully so, needs to do something with Block Ten. It’s a giant under utilized publicly owned space and they need to get something done NOW, while there is money in the economy to build it.
Holland Partner Group, a large urban residential developer that currently operates out of the 7th floor of 1111 Main Street, is planning on building a new 11 story Corporate HQ on the site. They own the Vancouver Center Tower 1 apartment building and is building the Tower 4 project right now. Holland is a pretty big outfit that tends to run under the radar.
They were considering a move to a suburban campus in Camas last year but are going to capitalize on the opportunity zone Downtown. Honestly, I thought they were silly to go to a suburban campus when all of their projects are high density, city center developments often in the core districts of major US cities, like Seattle and Denver. They really ought to have a Downtown urban HQ, right?
The new project will also include a 7 story residential building designed to suit the needs of middle class renters or buyers at 80% of the local median income. The Columbian piece went on to describe a fast track style of development that Holland is willing to take on which will result in ground breaking this year, instead of late next year as the Gramor project was likely to do.
Although I personally am disappointed that a grocer has yet to emerge Downtown, I am overjoyed that the Block Ten development is coming sooner rather than later. I am also delighted that Vancouver will retain a fantastic local business that employs nearly 200 people in good paying jobs.