There is Investor Money Waiting to Be Spent

The local urban condo market was again light on activity with an inventory net gain/loss of zero units. One unit sold and closed and a single unit was listed in its place. It seems inventory and activity are in holiday mode.

Meanwhile on the national front, you may have noticed that the stock market rallied to some all time highs and then pulled back a bit. The market cap value of the US Stock Market is somewhere in the $45 trillion range and yes that is trillion with a “T”. This latest “profit taking” session reduced the value of the market by a few percentage points and that adds up to a few hundred billion dollars in investment cash that has to go somewhere. Investors are not interested it sitting on idle cash. That cash often finds its way into major real estate projects like what we have going on here in America’s Vancouver.

Although the developers that have proposed projects in the pipeline are quite unlikely to admit they don’t have enough investment cash to get started, my gut says that is exactly the case for a few of these projects that are on the proverbial “back burner.”

All of that on the table, there has been a sizable amount of investment cash introduced to the investment capital firms and a great deal of this will find its way into the Portland-Vancouver metro market. We are one of the hottest commercial and multifamily real estate markets in the nation. I suspect that a few of these projects that are planned will get an inflow of investor support and break ground in the first half of 2020. I’d like to see Gramor get that 14 story 80 unit condo tower going and it would be nice if the units were priced under $1 million. 80 units times say an average price of $800k adds up to $64,000,000. The total cost to build both the condo tower and the Indigo Hotel has been estimated at $100 million. So I’d imagine at least half of that project cost is the Kirkland Tower. If I extrapolate that to the 14 story block 16 project planned by Gramor $800k per unit should pencil as respectably profitable. For the record, Gramor has not pushed this project very hard yet and it could be a smaller or larger project depending on how it all comes together. I’d like to see more condo opportunities and perhaps Barry Cain does too.

I would hope that local elected officials would participate in the efforts to get Vancouver USA exposed to the larger national markets rather than relying almost exclusively on Pacific Northwest investors. Let’s go Madam Mayor, there is work to do!

Quiet Week in the Resale Urban Condo Market

Last week was about as quiet as it gets. Not one new urban condo listing, nor a pending, nor a price change, and just one closing. Wow must of been a holiday week šŸ˜‰

Urban housing construction downtown and on the waterfront is mostly apartments these days and that is certainly been due to a heavy demand for rental units. The condo market however is also doing quite well and many buyers want to own a piece of Vancouver’s urban scene. The only condo project currently under construction is the 12 story Kirkland Tower. This project is now fully topped out and looks to be on schedule for a late 2020 or early 2021 completion. These are 40 units that are definitely aimed at the top of the market. Units are expected to fetch between one and five million dollars.

The Columbia, Block 20

There are several other residential projects underway in the downtown and waterfront areas. The Columbia project from San Francisco based Jackson Square is slated for some 250 apartment units on Block 20 at the Waterfront. This project is seeing ground work in the form of a garage dig out happening now. Local firm and current manager of the Parkview Apartments at Vancouver Center in tower 1, Holland Partner Group is nearly topped out on the Vancouver Center tower 4. This projectĀ  will add another 115 or so units downtown. Another local developer, Cascadia Development Partners has a tower crane operating at the site of their Aria project bringing another 128 units a half block west of Esther Short Park on West 6th street. That structure is rising up now. Our Heroes Place opened the furnished apartments in the ‘Ed Tower’ recently and is nearly complete on the ‘Dolly Tower’ with a total of about 50 units. Al Angelo’s Mill Plain II project was revised to include some residential units but details are sketchy on that, a tower crane is in operation on the site as the base ground work and concrete construction is underway. There are several other smaller projects including some income restricted affordable housing rising up in and around Downtown and Uptown.

Aegis, Phase 1 left, Phase 2 top

There are a few projects proposed that appear to be very near approval. I am genuinely excited about a few of them including Marathon’s Aegis at the Academy. This project will enhance the area around one of our oldest surviving structures and a beautiful example of classic brick architecture. The area where this project is going just north of the Library is currently underutilized parking and in bad shape. This will add some retail and 134 apartment units. The land sale to enable this project is going into the preservation funds for the Academy building. Since Marathon has already submitted a proposal for the second phase, I feel the first phase is nearly ready to break ground.

I would like to see more condo projects proposed. I really feel like condo developers are waiting to see what happens with Kirkland Tower. The problem is that Kirkland is only 40 units and I feel like that project is small enough to succeed regardless and may not be an accurate barometer. What is a more significant measure of Downtown market strength is the success of renting the expensive waterfront apartments in the $3500-$5000 a month range. Residents able to afford that much rent can qualify to buy a condo in the $500-700k range.

Gramor Development, the Waterfront Master Developer, has plans for a 14 story 80 unit condo tower on Block 16. No formal proposal has been submitted yet and I feel that there is a “wait and see” happening. Those 80 units need not be as plush and expensive as the Kirkland units.

Vancouver does not have any many high end units in high-rise projects downtown, I feel that Kirkland will have little trouble selling those 40 units. The short marketing time for units in the high-rise Viewpoint project and the activity at Tidewater Cove east of downtown in a suburban setting is robust with expensive units selling reasonably fast. We have the market we just need a few more developers to jump in.

It would also be nice to see some townhouse style units go in around mid-town or Uptown to bring some middle income earners to the area. Things are going well and the construction activity is booming in the urban core of Vancouver USA.

Latest Urban Update

A new page tracking construction cranes in Vancouver’s Downtown is live here.

On the urban condo front, 1 new listing, 0 pending, 4 closed. Quiet week for inventory but that is to be expected this time of season.

The CCRA had its meeting on Thursday. The bulk of the time was spent going over a fairly comprehensive review of the so called, “Waterfront Gateway” and how that 6.5 acres may be developed. The meeting went over the public input as well as local government vision for the area.

One of the CCRA board members was concerned about drawing families to the area. This is an idea with which I agree, but I also have serious reservations about the city having the will to do what needs to be done to bring families to the Downtown

Families are typically interested in a more suburban style of living with less crowds,Ā  less traffic, less crime, and an overall perception of a good environment for their children. Those families seeking a more walk-able urban setting might be inclined to seek out Arnada or Hough as they are close in but still more like a residential neighborhood.

This area south of City Hall is not that. It will not be that in the future. Bringing families to an urban neighborhood means that the families have already given up the notion of a quiet culdesac for the kiddies to ride their bikes. The biggest hurdle that remains is the problem with transients camping on the street out front. Parents are unlikely to want to have their children subjected to the potential or perceived dangers associated with this issue. Political entities tend to shy away from discussing it but it is the elephant in the room should the city be serious about attracting families to the downtown core.

Many citizens are concerned with affordable housing and that is a legitimate concern. But this gateway area is not the location for that type of housing. The reason is that the land value is too high. Vancouver Housing Authority has done a fabulous job of providing income restricted housing all over the city and any affordable housing in this new development zone will need to be “relatively affordable” rather than actually affordable otherwise the projects simply won’t pencil.

It never fails however that people will see the rental prices in the area and freak out because they don’t see it as affordable. But if it is substantially below the market rate then it is relatively affordable and that is really the best that can be done with this high density, valuable land.

One of the citizen comments during the meeting referred to the waterfront with this: ‘ordinary people can visit the waterfront, but they can’t afford to eat there or live there’. He was partially right as the rents on the waterfront are definitely well above the reach of a typical earner. But I am not sure what the gentlemen considers “ordinary” people. Several of the venues on the waterfront are reasonably priced and definitely are within reach of people earning less than the median wage in Vancouver.

Downtown properties are going to be a little bit more expensive than properties in Minnehaha, Hazel Dell, Orchards, etc. They just are. There are many areas in Vancouver including some very nice middle class neighborhoods that have land values suitable for truly affordable housing. The Waterfront and lower Downtown are simply not affordable.

25 years ago Downtown Vancouver was an absolute crap-hole. Now it is a nice bustling urban center with lots to do and see. It is clean and safe and evolving into the envy of the region. Why on Earth would anyone want to go back to the way it was in the early 1990s? If the city doesn’t get a handle on the local homeless crisis it will absolutely return to the dark and grimy days of the early 1990s. There is a lot of public and private money on the line here and Vancouver need only look south of the river to see what can happen when city governments do not get their house in order. Portland was once a beautiful city with clean and safe streets; it is now a wretched mess so out of control that it may never recover.

Vancouver city officials are well advised to look at the Rose City as an example to avoid rather than one to emulate.

Latest Urban Buzz!

The urban condo market in Vancouver saw a tightening of inventory yet again. Prices are holding but some units saw a price reduction as the tool to get into contract. The local market for urban condos saw one additional unit listed, three went pending and three closed.

There doesn’t seem to be much resistance in the upper end either. A pair of Tidewater Cove units priced well above $700k one at $1.5m closed last week. This is good news for the urban core.

For those living in the downtown area some new projects should enhance the neighborhood. The tallest building in downtown Vancouver at 805 Broadway is renovating the southwest corner of the building to include some retail store fronts. Previously that section was just a red brick wall.

Image from The Columbian 11-12-2019

The Port of Vancouver released additional Terminal One proposals that were reported by The Columbian last week. The two blocks in the back near the railway berm will feature two mid-rise buildings of 7 floors each separated by a nice terraced and stepped back style of steps between them. The parking will be in garages that face the berm. It’s a solid design and should have little trouble in the city approval process.

On Block D of the Terminal One project the work on ground prep for the AC Marriott is nearing completion as of last Tuesday it was reported to be at about 60% complete and likely the stabilization efforts will conclude this year.

Some local experts are worried about adding so many new hotel rooms, but I see it differently. The City of Vancouver has a plan to expand the Hilton Hotel convention center and they have plenty of space to do so. They could easily, I mean EASILY triple the amount of convention space in that facility by utilizing the two city owned lots to the south of the Hilton. This would allow Vancouver to host larger conventions which in turn would fill the nearby new hotel rooms. It will be an easy sell to convention organizers with the new waterfront so close and the lovely Esther Short Park across the street.

Jackson Square Properties is hard at work with Pence Construction digging out the Block 20 lot for their new Apartment building on the Waterfront. That place is slated to have over 230 units making it larger than the Riverwest building on Block 8. Angelo’s tower crane is up and operating at Mill Plain and C Street, and Cascadia’s Aria project is rising up off the ground under their recently installed tower crane.

Downtown is buzzing with activity, and that is a good thing.

Another Crane Rises

Before I begin, a little urban condo update. Local inventory was squeezed tighter again this week with three pending sales, and two closed sales but nary a new a listing. Good news in the urban condo market in Vancouver.

OxBlue project cam for Angelo 300 Mill Plain.

I drove by the construction site for Al Angelo’s new office – mixed use tower going up on Mill Plain. A tower crane is under construction to support the project. If that crane is fully erected before Kirkland pulls down the crane on the nearly topped out waterfront tower that bears his name, we shall have three tower cranes active downtown again. Angelo has also added a OxBlue project camera on his other Mill Plain tower next door. I like the project cameras, it is fun to watch these urban developments go up, kudos Mr. A.

For those that wonder why I blather on about tower cranes, I mentioned the urban economic status afforded to cities with lots of crane activity in a post on the ‘Couv’ Life a few weeks back, click here. RLB is a firm that actually tracks tower crane activity in several large cities in North America. Seattle has been at the top of that list for three years running. Regarding cranes, there is a distinct likelihood that Vancouver’s downtown will have at least four cranes up simultaneously in 2020 even though Kirkland’s crane is coming down soon. In my nearly 20 years here, I can’t remember that many up at once.

I am not sure they will use a tower crane on the AC Marriott Hotel under construction now at the Terminal One site, they will almost certainly do so for the recently started Columbia project on Block 20 at the waterfront. Assuming both projects end up with a tower crane by spring, The Aria crane and Angelo’s crane will both be up as well for a total of four active cranes Downtown. It is also possible that the Springs Retirement tower and the long awaited Timberhouse could start in 2020 and both of those projects will require a tower crane. Furthering the potential for crane-o-topia in the ‘Couv’ is the Block 2 waterfront office tower Gramor has planned. Since the Murdock is nearly fully leased, that building is primed to go up in Vancouver’s tight office market. That will be a tall structure and certainly require a tower crane as well. How cool would that be? Then there is the Aegis at the Academy project that seems to be nearing the end of the permitting process and that very well could have a tower crane supporting the project as well. I’ll have a difficult time concealing my glee should the ‘Couv’ have more than half a dozen cranes at once Downtown. Geez, I’m having trouble concealing it with just the notion of such an event šŸ™‚

For the Portland based readers of this urban news blog, yes we are well aware that according to RLB, Portland has 30 active cranes and that Vancouver is not going to have that many anytime soon or probably ever, but Vancouver doesn’t need to have 30 cranes to be a roaring success. Vancouver USA is not the service core of the Metro Area. Portland has enough high rises and skyscrapers that all of their current activity will not drastically change the Rip-City skyline. Vancouver on the other hand, is seeing a dramatic change to the skyline that is noticeable even to the layperson unfamiliar with the city. There is an urban evolution occurring in Vancouver USA right now that is transforming the caterpillar into a cosmopolitan butterfly. For those watching across the river on Hayden Island the skyline is completely different and definitely more impressive.

Where our notably smaller but the none-the-less robust urban development succeeds, is cementing the concept of Vancouver as a satellite city to Portland and NOT a suburb of Portland.


All Quiet on the Urban Front

That title may seem odd with all the construction activity in and around Downtown Vancouver. There is quite a bit going on but as far as news updates, it is rather quiet. The projects that are underway are moving along nicely but the city has been a bit quiet regarding projects currently under review, such as the Aegis at the Academy, Jefferson Street Apartments, Hyatt Hotel on Washington Street, Block Ten, etc. The CCRA has made some last minute agenda adjustments lately as well. In the past the CCRA December meeting has had some solid presentations for projects and updates to the proposals for larger urban projects so I look forward to next months meeting. Other projects that had traction a year ago and news buzz, seem to be eerily silent now. Summit Development Group and their CLT Timberhouse proposal for Block 3 on the waterfront has not had an update it months nor is it in the city review pipeline. Likewise the Kaiser+PATH Group in Portland proposed building the “Trestle” earlier this year on Block 14 waterfront, another high rise CLT project, but their website is clearly showing a focus on other projects mostly in Portland.

There is still a great deal of venture capital and investment cash floating around the economy and Vancouver officials and developers need to get their hands on more of it. Washington State is a much better tax environment for office professional industries and working with the City of Vancouver is much better for businesses than working with the militant Portland government.

Vancouver also has a great opportunity to attract Seattle business as companies in that expensive market could feel tremendous relief here with our better quality of life, lower cost of real estate and ambitious local government. Seattle corporate expansion and or relocation remain in Washington State making the transition relatively smooth. Office space is tight in Vancouver but many developers are nervous about building expensive high density office space without a large anchor tenant lined up in advance. The citizens of Vancouver have a vested interest in the well being of community and more quality high paying jobs is in the interest of the people. So the city can certainly allocated some resources to attracting large quality employers to the region. The list of disgruntled Portland business grows daily and they should be headed to Vancouver USA not Beaverton, Hillsboro, or Clackamas County.

On the condo scene last week was a push with about as many new listings as new sales. Things are looking solid in America’s Vancouver.

Local Urban Condo Inventory Tightens Again

This weeks activity saw some additional tightening in inventory for Vancouver urban condos in the Downtown and waterfront areas. There were two new listings and seven new pending sales along with a closed sale. That is the biggest one week tightening I have seen this year!

Urban condos are a sub market in real estate that often is a non-correlating market. That is to say, this sub-market often acts independently from the real estate market as a whole. In major US cities like Seattle and Portland where there is both a local acceptance and a larger urban living market, it will correlate a little closer than in an ‘up and coming’ urban market like Vancouver.

Kirkland Tower is the taller building under the crane

I’m seeing trends in our urban market suggesting there could be a stronger than average demand for our urban units. The excitement for our region has intensified with the success of the waterfront expansion and that is certainly spilling over into the Columbia Shores, Tidewater, and Downtown neighborhoods. At this time there are no completed condo units on the new waterfront. The 12 story Kirkland Tower is under construction and will bring 40 high end luxury condo units on floors 2-11 to the waterfront. For now, only rental units are available and hundreds more units will come to market over the next 12-18 months.

Gramor Development is planning a 14 story 80 unit condominium project on Block 16. I would imagine we will hear more about that project after units start selling in Kirkland. The success of Kirkland will likely play a role in the pricing level and size of condos that will go into the project on Block 16.

Vancouver has a smaller proportion of condo units relative to rental units in the urban core than say Portland’s Pearl District and South Waterfront neighborhoods. This positive action in the local urban condo market, particularly in the high end units at Viewpoint, Meriwether, and Tidewater show that Vancouver is becoming a stronger urban destination for buyers as well as renters.

Block Two Proposal

The most important thing Vancouver city officials can do is promote the Downtown area for more commercial office tenants that bring high paying professional jobs to the urban core. Architects, Lawyers, Doctors, Engineering Firms, and the like employ highly educated, well paid personnel in class A office settings. These professionals are often far better off in the Washington State tax environment than in Oregon. We are an easy sell and our inventory of commercial office space is fairly tight at the moment, so some extra positive market pressure will make some of the proposed office towers financially attractive to investors starting with Gramor’s Block 2 proposal on the waterfront. Gramor already has Colliers International real estate firm marketing space for lease and the building is still in the planning stages. This gives potential lessees an opportunity too secure space in a structure that is still at least 24 months away from occupancy, and make all the business planning and adjustments with ample time.

I see companies like Holland Partner Group located in Vancouver that do large scale high-rise projects in major cities like Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, and Portland. How many Portland based architects, developers, and engineering firms could move to Vancouver, keep all their Portland clients and enjoy a better work-life balance, lower commercial rents, and much more favorable taxation? City leaders have to sell that, Portland companies often live inside the ‘Portland Bubble’ they won’t likely find us on their own. The more urban commercial and industrial jobs we create here, the less cars are on our two Columbia River bridges.

Let’s keep the good times rolling here in America’s Vancouver.

Latest Buzz

Kirkland Tower is getting close to topping out. They are under a bit of a crunch as the FAA height restriction variance for the 250 foot tower crane expires this month. They are working on completing the 11 story super structure, I’d imagine the 12th floor rooftop penthouse and patio won’t need the tower crane. It looks like they have 9 floors built up and as of yesterday were working on the tenth floor. Kirkland Tower will have super premium condos, that take full advantage of the waterfront location and the amenities of the attached 8 story Hotel Indigo that topped out last month.

Last week’s CCRA meeting had updates for the City of Vancouver’s vision for the waterfront gateway area south of city hall and north of the BNSF Railway. I’m awaiting the release of any new information on this new development zone.

Last month the CCRA got a preview of the updated Holland Partner Group proposal for Block Ten which was met with mostly favorable response. That updated plan will be presented at the city pre-application conference this week. Hopefully some additional details will become available. This project is supposed to break ground this year to take advantage of expiring incentives. It will include a 4 story office building on top of ground level retail and two floors of parking. Also a residential tower with five floors of apartments stacked over mixed use ground level and again 2 floors of parking. It will be nice to have that long empty block built up with an enduring project.

I noticed that construction fencing has gone up around Block 20 on the waterfront. Also construction fencing went up around Block 19 but I suspect that Block 19 will serve as a staging lot for the fairly large project on Block 20. On Saturday there was equipment and supplies being unloaded on both lots.

This will be a 7 story apartment building with a similar size and scope of Riverwest on Block 8. Unlike Riverwest, this project is not expected to have a mixed use element and should be all residential. Jackson Square Properties out of San Francisco is the developer and they must be close to getting permits. The City of Vancouver project site still has it “under review” but I think they are probably already approved or very near approval.

I also noticed construction fencing has been in place for quite awhile around the Library Square property owned by Killian Pacific, but no activity appears to happening. This is a really important block and I feel like we need to get moving on it. Killian already got postponed a decade after the ‘Great Recession’ hit in 2008, another economic slowdown could cause more delays in the future. Why not get going now while real estate investment money is flowing like the Columbia River in springtime!

Marathon unveiled their phase two proposal for the Academy despite any actual activity at phase one. I think this also could be indicative of them feeling close to approval for permits on Aegis phase one. I like the Aegis project and would love to see them start on it before the end of the year.

Cascadia Development Partners is fast at work on the Aria. This is a 6 story apartment and townhouse residential building going up on West 6th just west of Esther Short Park almost ‘catty corner’ from City Hall.

Cascadia did the Uptown Apartments on Main Street and West McLoughlin. They did a fantastic job on that project. It opened in 2018 and they managed to get the building quickly leased. They were not as successful on the retail part, but they still got that building sold a year after it opened for a tidy profit. The building cost $45 million to build and opened in January 2018, it sold in May of this year for $57 million. The investors should be happy with their performance on that project. I think the Aria will be even better. The construction costs will be substantially lower (Estimated at $26 million) since it is a more simple approach, with a much easier excavation. The location is amazing. Cascadia should hit a home run with this project.

I’m hoping we will hear more from Cascadia about the full city block bounded by Main Street, West 15th, Washington Street, and West 16th. They have had a large development sign up with a leasing info contact, and some press reports about having something lined up for that block. That is an important block as it is visible to everyone visiting Downtown that uses the Mill Plain off ramp. I hate dead blocks!

Prestige Development is very close to opening the Our Heroes apartment buildings on East 13th at E Street. They have the clock/temp digital sign working on the top of the North Tower (Ed Tower).

The Columbian reported about two new ‘restaurants’ opening Downtown. A ‘Country Bar’ called “Six Shooter” should keep our ‘urban cowboys’ entertained and a Georgian restaurant called “Dediko” add to the expanding diversity of food and drink in our urban core.

The urban condo scene was business as usual with no new inventory but one unit returned to market after being pending for a couple of weeks and a few price changes and closings as well.

The Positive Activity Continues

Cascadia Development Partners got their bright red tower crane erected last week and construction on the Aria project is well underway. That project is in a great spot for tenants looking to capitalize on both the Waterfront and Esther Short Park. Looks like a nice project.

Kirkland topped out the Hotel Indigo a week or two ago and the Kirkland Tower Condo project is up to the ninth floor. They may be a bit under the gun as the FAA has only cleared them to use the 250 foot tower crane until the end of this month. They need to get the final floors done ASAP. Kirkland Tower is on my radar since it will be the first home ownership opportunity on the new waterfront. These units will not come cheap, but they will likely still sell quickly. This is a somewhat unique project as it looks like one large building it is actually two separate structures in a co-joined type arrangement. The 12 story Kirkland Tower will have access to some of the hotel services and amenities.

The Columbian had an article in yesterday’s paper about a tight office rental market in Vancouver. As I was reading the article I started to wonder why the heck Holland Partner Group scaled back the office tower portion of their project on Block Ten Downtown. The article continued on suggesting that despite the high demand and super low vacancy rates in Vancouver office buildings, developers are still playing it safe, often trying to get key anchor tenants lined up before pushing the project through the permitting process. That makes sense actually and it solidifies my earlier prediction that Holland may also be under a time issue to take advantage of incentives that expire soon. The taller project would certainly be a bit more time consuming.

Thursday the CCRA (City Center Redevelopment Authority) will meet and the city has the agenda posted. Nothing further on Block Ten, but I have seen them add stuff last minute, so I am watching closely for additional details. One thing on the agenda is further discussion about the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) issued by the City last month regarding the area now called ‘Waterfront Gateway’. This entire area is almost completely owned by Vancouver city government agencies and a sizable portion is being used as surface parking. I am hoping that this new development zone mandates structured parking for the public. Perhaps the CCRA will have more details on the future of this area. The city has a fast-track approach in the MOU to have preliminary work done this year and to select a ‘master developer’ in the first half of 2020. They also want to have a full master plan ready for approval by Q2, 2021.

The Columbian also had an article yesterday regarding a new effort to get things rolling on the Interstate Bridge Replacement. I have opined greatly on the subject and my concerns include the lack of respect for both the Columbia River and Vancouver’s Downtown by the Portland and Oregon officials. The last bridge design was hideous and devoid of character. Vancouver should not tolerate any bridge design that is ugly. The new project may have to be a concrete design but we can add some architectural style to offset the blight of a large concrete bridge. We have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in both public and private funds into the improvements to our wonderful waterfront, another two billion or so will flow in over the next several years, we cannot afford to ruin the beauty of the waterfront with a Frankenstein bridge!

Things are rolling right along in Urban Vancouver.

Vancouver has Low Violent Crime Rate, Despite Last Week’s Incident

Last week I had a few errands to run Downtown. I was heading west on SR-14 and took the Downtown ramp. The 6th street exit was blocked off with Police activity and as I navigated around the closure I quickly discovered that something rather major was going on. Vancouver Police had several blocks barricaded and there were scores of patrol cars from multiple agencies converged at Smith Tower Apartments. The VPD Command Center was there, the SWAT team, the whole deal. A local news helicopter hovered over downtown while the police did their work.

Smith Tower Apartments, taller building on right

As it turns out, an 80 year old resident of Smith Tower allegedly decided to settle a dispute with another resident with violence. The man reportedly shot three people in the lobby of the building killing one of them.

Vancouver has a very low rate of this kind of crime. We enjoy a homicide rate well under the national average for mid to large sized cities. But the ugliness of violence does occasionally appear as it did last week. In this particular case, it was in a rather unexpected location, the senior living apartments at Smith Tower where residents are required to be at least 62 years old.

These kinds of incidents get a lot of news exposure and can sometimes lead the unaware to a conclusion that isn’t necessarily accurate. Between 2003 and 2017 Vancouver hasn’t had more than 9 homicides in any year and three of those years had ZERO! The whole Portland-Vancouver Metro Area is relatively light on violent crimes. That is a good thing.

Having an army of police converge on a building for several hours can be a distraction from the much more typical, walk-able, fun living opportunity in our excellent downtown and waterfront areas.

Activity in the local urban condo market was quiet and neutral with one closed, two pending, and two new listings. The inventory is adequate for demand and seems to favor neither buyers nor sellers.