Vancouver USA vs. Other Mid-Sized Cities

Vancouver has a bit of an identity crisis that has long plagued the city. I wrote about this in “The ‘Couv’ Life” some years ago, the article is here. If it is not our name confusion with that other Vancouver, or confusion with Oregon due to our close proximity, or Washington State’s confusion with DC, then it is our interesting position juxtaposed from Portland, nay a suburb nor twin city.

When comparing Vancouver to other mid-sized cities in the USA we may find some interesting contrasts as well as similarities. Right here in Washington State there are three other cities similar to Vancouver in size. Slightly larger; Tacoma and Spokane, then the smaller, Bellevue. Tacoma and Spokane are ‘officially’ larger than Vancouver by as many as 30,000 residents but Vancouver is officially supposed to annex the entire Orchards area of some 70,000 people which makes Vancouver the defacto second largest city in the state. That said Tacoma and Spokane are in many ways “bigger.”

Tacoma looks much bigger than its population. But a large part of that is the fact that it is surrounded by water on three sides and has become land locked by other adjacent incorporated cities. Tacoma has run out of room to grow so it must go up since it can’t go out. Tacoma is also the seat of government for Washington’s second largest county. Pierce County has more people than Multnomah County where Portland OR is. Tacoma’s port is much bigger than ours and the city has a more dense downtown. But Tacoma is some 34 miles from Seattle where as Vancouver is immediately adjacent to Portland. Vancouver can tap into Portland’s network with minimal travel. Tacoma has no such luxury. It has horrific traffic compared to Vancouver. Tacoma has a city proper population of about 212,000 and a “zip code” population of nearly 400,000. Zip code population refers to census data reports for people living inside the zip codes designated for the city and includes those residents in unincorporated neighborhoods. In Tacoma’s case it also includes some 80,000 military personnel at Joint Base Lewis McChord. That compares to Vancouver at 186,000 and 325,000 respectively. Vancouver compares favorably to Tacoma with a much lower crime rate, superior traffic conditions, and a very close proximity to a major city (Portland, OR)

Spokane is the heart of Washington’s Inland Empire. It is the largest city in any direction for hundreds of miles. That makes it the center point of urban development and services for an enormous area. It also means that Spokane is more significant as a local “big city” than Vancouver which sits in the shadow of its larger southern neighbor, Portland. Spokane is served by its own International Airport and punches above its weight due to its remote location and massive service area. Comparatively Spokane’s population in the “city proper” is 216,000 and in the “zip codes” about 342,000. But Spokane is all alone out there in the middle of nowhere. It a suffers against Vancouver with higher crime rate and seriously brutal winter weather. Traffic in Spokane is generally similar to Vancouver.

Bellevue is one of those anomalous cities with a skyline that makes it look 5 times bigger than it is. That my friends is all that crazy tech money in East King County! Bellevue is for all intents a wealthy enclave for the tech giants operating in the shadow of the mighty Microsoft. Aside from the impressive downtown high rises, it is really a very upscale suburb. No real industry, port, rail connections or other “big city” stuff. Just a bunch expensive single family homes and a pretty impressive array of high rises and even a few skyscrapers clumped in the middle. Bellevue has a city population of around 140,000 and the “zip code” population is almost the same. Bellevue is more or less a tech hub and expensive suburb serving Seattle. Outside of the tech industry there is little opportunity in the region. Bellevue is saddled with crushing traffic jams and some of America’s most expensive housing with a median home price more than double that of Vancouver.

What about outside of Washington State? Oregon, California, Idaho? Well California has a lot of cities with a population of 150,000 to 250,000, seriously ALOT of them. Many of them are large suburbs in the Bay Area or LA area. The only cities in California that might compare to Vancouver are the inland mid-sized cities of Modesto, Bakersfield, and Stockton, and well that is no comparison, nobody really “wants” to live there. Santa Rosa, CA is similar in city size with about 185,000 but the zip code size is only 213,000. Santa Rosa has little in the way of heavy industry, no port, and freight rail is nominal. Fremont, California is nestled halfway between Oakland and San Jose and compares to Vancouver with industry, tech, and size. Fremont has 237,000 city and about the same in its zip codes. Fremont draws from an enormous metro area lying inside Alameda County population 1.5 million and adjacent to Santa Clara County population 2 million. Fremont has a solid rail hub but no serious port facilities. Fremont traffic is insidious, home values are expensive.

In Oregon, Eugene and Salem are somewhat comparable. Eugene is driven largely by the University of Oregon and is a bit of a “one trick pony” and Salem is the Capital of Oregon and largely driven by the Government Sector. Eugene has a city pop of 168,000 and zip code pop of 199,000. Eugene is a bit too far from the Portland metro to have a real relationship. Salem comes in at 170,000 and 250,000. Salem has little in the way of industry and no significant rail or port facilities. It is aproximately 40 miles from Portland and has some business symbiosis. Neither is really close to the ‘Couv’ in population, industry or potential business opportunity.

Idaho has its capital city of Boise that is similar in many ways to Vancouver but also has a bit of the Spokane thing going on. Boise is the biggest city for hundreds of miles. It punches above its weight as well. The city population stands at 227,000 with a zip code pop of 265,000. Boise is primarily a truck and rail city with significantly less heavy industry but a nice combination of government sector, university, and tech. Homes are reasonably priced, weather is bit hot in the summer and can be nasty in the winter although not as brutal as Spokane. Crime is low, and traffic is pretty good.

In the Portland Metro Area Vancouver stands out as not only the largest of Portland’s satellites but the largest by an enormous margin. Gresham the next closest is not even a mid sized city per se with just 110,000 peeps. Its zip code population is actually smaller than that! That is because parts of the city of Gresham spill over into zip codes of Portland. Likewise Vancouver has a few thousand residents living in the Camas zip code. The next two cities down are Beaverton and Hillsboro each just shy of 100,000 population. These two cities are anchored by massive single employers, Nike in Beaverton and Intel in Hillsboro.

So where does all this leave America’s Vancouver? Well it is emerging as a bit of a rival to Portland. Almost a Minneapolis and St. Paul kind of thing. Now before I get carried away, St Paul Minnesota is a bit bigger than Vancouver WA but it likely suffers a bit of the same issue being in the shadow of the larger and better known Minneapolis. St. Paul however is about 75% the size of Minneapolis and Vancouver is a bit less than half the size of Portland.

Vancouver is immediately adjacent to Portland and the two cities have some symbiosis sharing the Columbia River and two interstate bridge crossings. Vancouver is also the only other city in the metro area with a large port, significant heavy industry, and a true city style, urban downtown core. It is also the only other city in the metro area on the verge of becoming a proper large city rather than a mid-sized city. Portland, OR has a city population of about 650,000 and a zip code population just shy of 700,000. Vancouver as mentioned before has a zip code population of 320,000 and that is a bit of a counter weight to Portland. For years Vancouver has been punching under our weight. Now is the time for us to start ‘hitting’ like a large city. There’s business to be had, and it should be here!

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It’s Good to be Back!

Union Street, Aberdeen, Scotland July 2019

I am delighted to return from my trip to the UK where I spent time with family as well as doing all that classic touristy stuff. I spent a fair bit of time looking through the lens of a realtor® while there and was able to confirm one thing for sure regarding Vancouver’s urban development both Downtown and the Waterfront. We are moving in a positive direction. They have a bustling “old school” setup with modestly dense development in neighborhoods supported by a fair bit of retail, services, and restaurants that creates a buzz to the vibe. We seem to be moving towards that and as long as we keep our development similar in density we should catch that perfect balance of busy but not crowded. London is CROWDED, uncomfortably so in fact. Aberdeen, Scotland however is a city similar in size to our Vancouver and was busy in a positive way, not too crowded but definitely a buzz about it.

While I was away things seemed to be quiet on the urban condo market. There were four new listings and two pending sales that failed and went active again for a total of +6 and that was offset by 5 new pending sales and 9 closed sales. There was a net inventory loss and that bodes well for sellers that have been reducing prices this summer.

Indigo Hotel, Block 4 August, 2019

The waterfront continues to build and close deals for new tenants in the retail/restaurant space. Gramor announced additionally another three wineries will be taking space to compliment Maryhill Winery which opened earlier this year. Stack 571 opened and Barlow Public House is set to open this month. Work on the Indigo Hotel is reportedly ahead of or on schedule according to an article in the Vancouver Business Journal. That hotel should be open late in 2020 and the adjacent Kirkland Condo tower will start selling units next year. They reportedly hired a Beverly Hills based real estate firm to represent the condos. You know those units are going to be pricey 😉

Hurley Tower, August 2019

In other news, Hurley Tower at the corner of Columbia Street and 3rd is rapidly rising up. Yes way down south on 3rd street right up against the BNSF rail crossing. This is an interesting building on a few fronts. One is its triangular design with an offset “flat iron” style that I like aesthetically. Another is that this is an office condo project that Hurley has manged to sell all but one floor. Businesses that want to own their space rather than lease have little options in the traditional office towers and this clearly fills a niche. This is a nice local success story. It does not stop there however as Hurley Development is also pushing a hotel project two blocks north of the Tower and effectively is transforming a somewhat run down and underdeveloped area into a fantastic connection between lower downtown and the new waterfront projects. Bravo, Mr. Hurley! Keep up the good work.

Back on the waterfront, Gramor announced in a Columbian article that Block 18 has been secured by a senior housing company with multiple locations in the metro area. They intend to erect a 12 story senior living tower with the full range of senior services from independent living to assisted care and memory care. This will be the last of the southern blocks fronting the river. The project appears to be rather upscale as one might expect for a waterfront location.

I’m still waiting on more details about the 14 story condo tower planned for block 16 and the Timberhouse 12 story CLT apartment building on Block 3. Stay tuned.

Vancouver’s Urban Image Continues to Improve

Vancouver Downtown and Waterfront from Hayden Island 7-19-19

It is always a good thing to keep a city’s image as positive as possible. This is a lesson that Portland may have to learn, the ‘hard way’ as Vancouver begins picking off employers and development projects from their pipeline.

Vancouver is much more than just the new waterfront. The city is working on a massive project at the east entrance to the city at SE 192nd Avenue and SR-14. And Downtown continues to grow and evolve into a very nice urban center with just the right amount of “urban.”

Larger cities like Seattle and Portland have much more dense development and honestly it is part of the whole “big city” thing those two cities have to contend with. Meanwhile on the ‘North Shore’ of the mighty Columbia we have built a tidy urban center with room to grow. There is plenty of land Downtown that is well below its highest and best use.

Vancouver however can build tallish structures that add to the urban flavor of Downtown but remain short enough to allow the golden rays of sunshine to land at our feet on the streets below. Well at least on the handful of days each year we have sun, right 😉

Victoria, BC in Canada, 2017

Because Vancouver is a satellite in the Metro region we have no “obligation” to erect 40 to 50 story skyscrapers and in all honesty, we likely never will.

Vancouver USA should follow the model of Victoria, BC and go dense but not too tall and that is exactly what they seem to be doing at City Hall. The tallest structures on the new waterfront are planned to remain at or below 20 stories. The photo of Victoria shows a dense but modest skyline and that is always a joy when you are wandering about the city. The sunshine whether or not diffused by cloud cover, makes it down to the streets and it is light and bright. The tallest building in Victoria is 21 floors and 217 feet tall. That is in line with what is planned on the final phase of the waterfront here in Vancouver USA.

Pipeline of Urban Projects at 50 Plus

I am away on vacation for a few weeks. It’s a long overdue visit to my wife’s relatives in her home country of Scotland. I may not be able to update the urban condo MLS activity this week or next, but will get all caught up in the second week of August.

I want to mention that the project pipeline in Vancouver I am tracking for urban style developments with more than 5 floors now exceeds 50 projects, either proposed, approved, under construction, topped out, or recently completed. Vancouver USA is continuing to blossom into a nice tidy urban center with most of the urban amenities and sans the bulk of the urban woes. Truly the best of all world’s in the Original Vancouver.

Progress on Kirkland Tower and Indigo Hotel, Block 4 Waterfront, Friday 7/19/19

I am still hoping to hear some news on a few exciting projects that seemed to have stalled out. There is no word either way on these but no news is probably bad news. The projects are Cascadia Development Partners, The Aria just west of the old City Hall Annex building. The only news I have on this dated in 2019 is a name change from The Esther to The Aria. Oh, and they erected a sign on the site. The Summit Development Company in Lake Oswego has exciting plans for a CLT high rise on Block 3 at the Waterfront. I haven’t heard a peep about this save for a brief comment quoted in the local news from Gramor President, Barry Cain, indicating the project was coming along. That was back in January as I recall. There is also chatter occasionally regarding the planned 14 story 83 unit condo tower for Block 16 immediately west of the Mary Hill Winery on block 12. I have not seen nor heard of anything more than a mention of the project.

Things are cruising along nicely here in Vancouver USA.

Lot’s of Urban News!

Good news! It looks like Who, Song, and Larry’s as well as Joe’s Crab Shack will remain through the construction of Dean Kirkland’s ‘Waterfront East’ project. According to a report in the Columbian last week, Kirkland submitted pre-app plans to the city that had significant revisions since the company announced the proposal to redevelop the space earlier this year.

Originally Kirkland proposed a pair of 9 story buildings perched in front of the river right on the spot the two popular waterfront restaurants occupy. The pre-app plans show a single larger 8 story structure instead of two smaller 9 story buildings. The larger building will be on the north end of the lot fronting Columbia Way, and two smaller 3 story mixed use buildings right over the river. Included in the plans are a wider promenade style waterfront walkway. The forward buildings will be staggered to allow the restaurants to operate while the buildings rise up.

Block Ten, vacant block with quasi-park

In other news, Holland is fast at work on the Vancouver Center 4 tower. They are also using half of Block Ten for staging the construction of the long awaited final tower. Meanwhile they also seem to be fast tracking their plans on Block Ten. They submitted revisions to the city for a larger office tower, not taller, just larger, it is still is planned for 11 floors. And more details on the 7 story companion tower with workplace residential. It seems the project will cover the entire block with parking above ground on several floors in the middle of the structure. The two tower sections will be connected via the lower floors creating in essence one large structure instead of multiple structures or so it seems.

805 Broadway, Vancouver WA

At 375,000 square feet of gross floor area, this will be one of the biggest projects in all of Downtown. For comparative purposes the largest single office tower in Vancouver right now is 805 Broadway (Bank America Financial Center) with 10 floors of office totaling 230,000 square feet and an additional 20,000 square feet of retail space.

Vancouver Center

The current three towers of the Vancouver Center total roughly 365,000 square feet of gross floor area, but Holland has the 4th tower under way that should push the total development to somewhere near 450,000 square feet and keep Vancouver Center’s status as the largest Downtown development. When complete, the Block Ten Project should come in as the second largest Downtown development. This Holland Partner Group project is a pretty big deal and if it is contained as one super structure, it may be the largest single building in Downtown but not the tallest. We shall see.

Northwynd & Parkview are Rather Active

Northwynd Condos and Parkview at Vancouver Center continue to lead the urban condo scene with tremendous activity, but the results are a bit mixed. Units are selling, but more are being listed, prices are being reduced, lots of activity for sure. What does it really mean?

Northwynd is a nice urban village setup in Columbia Shores near the river with Beaches and McMenemins waterfront restaurants across the street. Nearby there is also the Village at Columbia Shores and the very posh and expensive Meriwether Condos. Northwynd has a European Village feel with units lined up like townhouses along narrow streets each unit with ground access and a garage. The units rise two to three floors above the street.

Photo from MLS#19039939

Right now I am tracking 26 units in Northwynd with recent activity. 15 active listings, 3 pending sales, 1 canceled listing, 7 recent sales (2019). There is about 5-6 months of inventory in this development and that is pretty neutral and frankly healthy but not robust. Much of the price reduction activity is coming from competition that is better for less. Too many sellers are stuck with that 2016-17 mentality, list it and they will come. That ship sailed my friends, buyers can kick a few tires these days and you need to be priced right to sell. That is the only problem at Northwynd right now, there are some overpriced units in there.

Downtown in the mid-rise condo building at Parkview they have the same effective problems of some sellers with visions of grandeur, needing a check on reality. Parkview has two sides, the west side that faces Esther Short Park and the East Side that faces the urban WALL in the form of the much taller Vancouver Center 3 tower. Those ‘inside’ facing units simply do not fetch the same prices as a park-side unit. That said my friends, some of the best urban condo deals you will find anywhere in the whole Pacific Northwest are right there on the inside facing units at Parkview. If you don’t care about a nice view, don’t mind having diffused light, and looking at the office building across the courtyard, these units are well equipped and selling for very reasonable prices.

Photo by Rod Sager

I’m tracking 25 units in Parkview with recent activity (2019). 16 active listings, 1 pending sale, 8 recent sales. Although there is only 1 pending, a couple of pendings recently closed so the inventory levels at Parkview are similar to Northwynd with about a half year’s supply and again that is healthy but not really hot.

The prognosis for both of these developments is good. Northwynd offers a unique experience being a 1/2 block off the Columbia River and nestled in the tidy little community with two popular waterfront restaurants just across the street. These are condos but you get an attached garage, and some nice community amenities.

Parkview is the value leader in city style living. HOA dues may seem high in the building, but they include heating and cooling which means the electric bill will likely never get much above $20. The building has excellent security as well with public access limited to residents. Parkview is right next to Esther Short Park which remains the heart and soul of Downtown and hosts, festivals, concerts, art shows, and all kinds of fun including the weekly Farmers Market 7 months of the year. As the new waterfront develops, I see Parkview getting a boost as it will only become more value oriented. The new condos going in on the waterfront will have to be expensive as these are costly projects and the waterfront is going to be one of the premier urban communities in the whole Northwest as it builds out. There are always people who get priced out of projects like the waterfront as the area become gentrified, but Parkview will be a direct beneficiary to that as those units look like a value in comparison.

Urban Condos Abundant yet Selling

There is no shortage of units in Vancouver’s urban condo market. New ones come active each week but nearly as many go pending or close as well. This is good activity. The days on market is dragging just a bit, but it seems sellers are starting out high on price and coming back to the market over a few months. Sellers pricing the units well from the start are seeing a quick sale.

You can see a spike in listings for June that outpaced the spike in closings. I’ll be watching to see if the local market can absorb these new units in a reasonable time period. I think the listing spike likely came after sellers on the fence saw good activity in the spring and decided now is the time to sell. Summertime in Downtown is a lot more exciting than winter as the festivals, concerts and other fun stuff like the Farmer’s Market is a big draw. The figures above are for condos in Downtown only so this does not include areas like Columbia Shores, Tidewater, or Shorewood.

The $500,000 to $750,000 price range is the only range that seems under-represented in terms of available inventory. Recent units in Viewpoint and Frontier in that range sold relatively fast and new inventory has not filled the void. Above $750,000 has ample inventory as does the entry level units like those found at the Academy Square and Parkview projects.

The waterfront project continues to build new developments, but the only condo project actually under construction is Kirkland Tower and those will be very high-end units mostly well above $1 million. Another proposed condo building is slated for Block 16, that is also right along the water so I am presuming those will be upper end units as well. That building however is proposed to have double the number of units as Kirkland so they may be priced in a lower range, yet likely still in the $750,000 plus market. That is just my best guess there is no real published data on the Block 16 project. The other residential projects going in are all apartments thus far.

The lack of actual condos on the waterfront could certainly be helping the condo market downtown as the area continues to see economic expansion and significant improvements to enhance the living experience. The success of the various apartment buildings such as Rediviva and Riverwest, both complete and available now, could spark developers to roll the dice on condo projects along the new waterfront. These two apartment projects feature units with rents from $1,800 to $4,000 per month and there are a total of 280 units. Income required to support $3,000-$4,000 in rent is good enough to support a condo well above $500,000.

I believe the condo projects proposed and planned for the waterfront are taking a wait and see stance to monitor the success at Rediviva and Riverwest before committing to expensive condo projects.

The City of Vancouver and Gramor need to focus on bringing some high paying employers into the downtown, waterfront, and Port of Vancouver to help support more residential development, while the economy is still strong. Jobs are very important and there are plenty of companies looking to expand in and/or into our region. The waterfront project will be easy to fill with people should we add another 5,000 good paying jobs close in. Nobody save for the occasional traffic masochist, likes crossing the bridges to work.

Things are solid on the Vancouver Urban Living scene.

Surplus of High-End Properties

There is a bit of a surplus of high-end real estate right now in Vancouver and Clark County; from single family homes to luxury condos. This is slowing things down quite a bit. Make no mistake the local real estate market remains very hot in the entry level to median price points with quick sales and multiple offers on the bottom half of the market. Once you meander north of the middle things get decidedly cooler.

On the Downtown and Urban Vancouver scene this is playing out as well except  for a few variations of the theme. Tidewater is one of the most exclusive and expensive condo projects in Vancouver with units routinely playing in deep into 7 figures. Those units are not in plentiful supply and with the exception of the really expensive ones above $2.5 million they seem to be doing OK. Units in Shorewood and Parkview seem to be a bit heavy on inventory. To be fair, they are selling but I see that new listings are coming in a bit faster than old ones are selling. Shorewood and Parkview have a commonality in that they have some great view units and some with little or no view. the view units will command a significantly higher price, particularly in Parkview where the interior view is the side of an office building.

There are still sellers that think their unit is built from a solid billet block of gold, because I see some puffed up prices. This market will not tolerate a bloated price. Buyers should be unafraid to beat down a seller with delusions of grandeur, but be cautious against trying to steal something as this market will not tolerate low-ballers much either.

The urban units in Vancouver represent a broad range of diversity from the old and tired but still nice Academy in the $200k range to the high-rise of Viewpoint, multi-millions luxury of Tidewater, and the value proposition that is Shorewood. There is something for everyone in urban Vancouver and for the most part it is a nice neutral market.

Local Companies Developing Amazing Projects

Vancouver USA has an almost secret society of companies involved with larger urban projects both locally and out of the area. There are often out of area or Portland firms involved in larger scale construction projects, but here in America’s Vancouver we have a tidy group of developers, architects, management firms, and construction companies geared towards the types of projects underway Downtown and on the new Waterfront as well as outside our region.

Vancouver’s own LSW Architects have been involved with the design of several notable projects that are proposed, underway, or completed. I have been following the LSW designed ‘Uptown’ apartment building, and the Riverwest Apartment building, during the design to completion cycle.

On the construction side of the equation Vancouver and/or Clark County is home to several large operations that have been involved in some of the urban development locally. Robertson and Olsen Construction has their fingerprints all over the new waterfront and they export their urban expertise across the Columbia River as well.

On the development side, many who have followed the waterfront development know the name Gramor they are actually based in Tualatin, Oregon. However they are the master planners of the waterfront, each project has its own developer, Gramor has plans for some of the waterfront blocks, but locally Kirkland is building the Indigo Hotel and Kirkland Tower Condos on Block 4 of the waterfront.

In the downtown area several other players are working on urban projects followed right here on this site. Cascadia Development Partners recently completed the wonderful Uptown Apartments. That building was recently sold to a California based investor. I hope that frees up some cash for Cascadia to start on the Aria Apartments near Esther Short Park.

Hurley Construction has become a local force both downtown and around the suburban areas, they are building the Hurley Tower on 3rd and Columbia right now. That is an office condominium project.

Holland Partner Group is a Vancouver based urban developer often building high-rise and mid-rise buildings. Often they continue to manage the projects they build. They manage the Vancouver Center 1 Apartments and are building the long awaited Vancouver Center 4 tower now.

Killian Pacific is a long time contributor to urban and industrial operations in Vancouver. They are based downtown and operate the industrial area at and around the former Kaiser Shipyards. They currently are working on the plans for the ‘Library Square’ project which is near the Library and on the site of the former Carr dealership on C Street.

Prestige Development is another Vancouver based company well known for movie theater construction and management but also built the Prestige Plaza mixed use apartment building on the former Burgerville site on Mill Plain and Broadway and are just now completing the ‘Our Heroes Place’ two building urban apartment project on the next block over.

Vancouver is home to a fair number of urban developers including several that build projects all over the western US.

Is the City Working Hard Enough to Attract Development?

Over the last 25 years and three Mayoral Administrations, Vancouver has seemingly done a good job with the urban renewal of the Downtown area and the new Waterfront. But have they really?

A closer examination does lead one to wonder whether more effort is needed. This renewal began in the mid 1990s during a solid economic expansion. Vancouver’s core area particularly around Esther Short Park had deteriorated into a inner city mess. Mayor Pollard and the City Council took action and within ten years things were looking up. But many proposals went unbuilt prior to the great recession which really began in 2008. What happened? Why was the city unable to get those proposals to construction phase faster when the money was flowing in a strong economy?

Fast forward to the post recession economic surge and one can start to ask the same thing. There are many proposals for projects that look great. Yet there seems to be a great deal of money flowing into our larger neighbor to the south. Sure Portland is a major US city and will always have a bit of an advantage, but they seem to be capitalizing on the surplus cash funds investors have been pouring into real estate projects and capital expansion of business. A sizable chunk of Portland’s development likely could have been redirected to Vancouver had the city leaders exercised their sales skills. The city stands to benefit in the form of increased property values, improved infrastructure partly or completely offset by development fees, and additional revenue from increased local productivity.

I have several projects listed on the “Urban Pipeline” page right here.  These are a few that really should be moving at a faster pace:

  • Marathon Development, Aegis at the Academy
  • Killian Pacific, Library Square
  • Gramor Development, Block 2 Waterfront Office Tower
  • Summit Development Group, Timberhouse
  • Cascadia Development Partners, The Aria
  • Hurley, Washington Hotel

There are many more. I understand the process from proposed to ground breaking requires a legal and bureaucratic process, but the the City of Vancouver has a reputation for being easier to work with than Portland. So why are they not aiming higher? There is still a solid export business happening in the USA right now. Factories, Law Firms, Hotels, Insurance, and more expanding operations and they should be expanding HERE in Vancouver USA rather than Portland. There are great advantages to Vancouver USA versus Portland. Taxes are generally better, quality of life for workers is definitely better. The city and local developers should not underestimate that worker quality of life, because it is a major focus among employers right now!

The city and the Port of Vancouver has skin in the game, infrastructure has been put in at great taxpayer expense and it is time to take advantage of the swollen investor and corporate cash accounts created by a booming economy before that cash is spent elsewhere or the economy takes a southerly turn, one or both of these events is inevitable. The city really needs to strike while the iron is hot.