Excellent Sales Activity!

This week saw a pretty nice run of Pending and Closed sale son urban condos across a broad range of pricing. Several units in Northwynd at Columbia Shores either closed or went pending this week. A couple of pending sales in Shorewood as well as Parkview at Vancouver Center. In the upper range a unit went pending at Tidewater in the $1 million range and two nice units at Viewpoint $699k and $950k went pending this week.

Things are looking strong for Vancouver USA and the urban condo market. If the economy can continue to push favorably forward this summer should bode well as the Waterfront project continues to bring more exciting restaurants, services and development to the area.

Another High Rise Proposed for the Waterfront

Carbon 12 in Portland, OR

The latest news has centered on a Portland firm planning a new high-rise for the waterfront. The Columbian newspaper reported last week the Kaiser Group has proposed a CLT ((cross laminated timber) apartment tower called, “The Trestle.” Perhaps the railroad parlance is in honor of the nearby rail operations for the Port of Vancouver. Kaiser Group is involved with the development of other CLT projects including the Carbon 12. It’s an 8 story CLT building in Portland, which is currently the tallest CLT wood structure in America. This new cross laminated timber structure is proposed for Block 14 with 16 floors and 185 feet tall. The building as proposed would be a little bit taller than the current FAA height restrictions in the area, but Block 14 is far enough west that I would imagine the FAA would be fine with it especially since the building will likely have a narrow elevation profile and the La Farge cement tower is nearby and exceeds 150 feet itself. A 16 story building with only 110 units will not be very wide. We shall see how this one develops, looking like a really nice project. If built it will be taller than the Timberhouse 12 story building proposed on Block 3 and would become the tallest CLT building in the United States. The Trestle, is in the preliminary stages and would be finished in 2023.

Timberhouse from Summit Development

Now that I’ve mentioned the Timberhouse, I haven’t heard anything lately from Summit Development on the progress towards a ground breaking. Summit Development is a bit hush on this project having not updated their website at all in several months. I like the classic style of this project, but I fear that they may be stalled out on it. No news is not good news in this line of business. The last quote I read from Barry Cain at Gramor, back in January, they were planning on breaking ground for Timberhouse this year. Let’s hope they do, there is a lot on money, both public and private riding on this amazing waterfront, the sooner these projects get started, the sooner more local, regional, and national buzz the site receives. Media buzz in this instance is very good.

There is a website that counts tower cranes and measures the economic success of cities based on the number of active cranes operating in the city. Seattle has spent the last few years at the top of the list in the U.S. Let’s get a few more cranes up here in the ‘Couv’.

Block 4 Construction Progress

In other Waterfront news, The progress on Lot 4 seems to be humming along as we ride into spring. I was at the Grand Opening of Fidelity and Chicago Title at the Murdock on Thursday night. That is a nice building to be sure. From the east side the windows look over the construction site for Lot 4 where the Kirkland Tower and Indigo Hotel projects are under construction. I took a photo with my phone, out the window of title officer, Joan Grimm’s east facing office. It shows the underground development on Block 4. These are two subterranean levels of parking for the complex. The 12 story Kirkland Tower condos will rise up on the near side of the block while the 8 story open atrium Indigo Hotel will go up on the far side of the block. The two buildings will be connected to form an almost single structure.

Downtown Vancouver and the Waterfront are the happening spot in the metro area right now, and there is no need take our foot of the accelerator pedal.

El Gaucho coming to Indigo on the Waterfront

Vancouver’s new waterfront development just got some serious restaurant street cred with the announcement that El Gaucho will have a new restaurant located inside the new Indigo Hotel currently under construction on block 4. El Gaucho has four other locations, Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Portland. The Columbian reported on the announcment and added that El Gaucho will also run the ‘Sky Lounge’ planned for the eighth floor.

El Gaucho prides itself in table side preparation of dishes, high quality ingredients and a formal attire worn by the wait staff. Entreés are going to be higher than most, if not all other eateries in the Vancouver area.

I have been to the Portland location located in the Benson Hotel a number of times, all were either very special occasions or business events. For most El Gaucho is reserved for special events like a 25th wedding anniversary, or another milestone occasion as those menu prices can be cost prohibitive for middle-income earners. But the idea of being able to stay local rather than making a run down to Portland for El Gaucho, Ruth Criss, City Grill, etc. just adds to the power of the positive transformation happening on the waterfront that transcends the local project to benefit the whole county.

Some will bemoan the high values of property being erected and the higher end nature of the shops and restaurants, but one can’t expect the most premium real estate in the metro area to be used for second-hand shops, fast food, dive diners, and cheap apartments. It doesn’t work that way. There is a strong economic impact created on these types of developments that helps everyone on the economic ladder. Although most of the construction workers, electricians, plumbers, and other middle-income service providers cannot afford to live in the units being built, the billions of dollars being spent on their services may very well allow them to buy a new place of their own, or move up to the better living arrangement. Washington-based contractors should be loving this since travelling to Oregon for jobs is time-consuming and carries a heavy tax burden.

This waterfront will be a positive for the whole region, and will even prop up the whole Downtown area as it builds out. Remember, We are only at less than half built through the first of three phases to be built over the next 8-10 years.

I only hope our city leaders will do their very best to start using this exciting new development to attract some large employers to the area. Jobs are always a good boost for local economic conditions and getting 20-30 thousand of the 60 thousand plus who commute across the bridges to Portland back on ‘our side’ of the river is good for our local tax base and very good for our residents. Not to mention the reduced traffic load on the bridge.

I’ll be writing about Oregon’s aggressive highway tolling plan and the fact some Portland leaders are trying to target Washingtonians that cross the river to work. If Vancouver leaders play it right, we could get Portland employers to move over here. But they must be aggressive as well.