Port leaders mixed on vision for waterfront

Ideas for 40-acre property include retail, offices, hotel

A Washougal Waterfront Vision and Master Plan includes several buildings expected to house retail businesses, but some Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners think it might make more sense to attract one or more corporate tenants.

“Retail is in a state of flux, if not decline,” Commissioner Bill Ward said during a discussion about the waterfront property at a May 2 Port Commission meeting.

The Port owns 27 acres, and Parker’s Landing owns 13 acres of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property at 335 S. “A” St., Washougal. Parker’s Landing is represented by Killian Pacific President Lance Killian.

Ward said corporations provide family-wage jobs and would be attracted to the Camas-Washougal area. He referred to the Banfield Pet Hospital’s corporate headquarters in East Vancouver and Fisher Investments’ 150-acre campus in Camas, as examples of companies that recognize the fact that their employees want to work in nice locations.

Ward said aggressive marketing of the waterfront site could include advertising in the Wall Street Journal. He added that corporations like to showcase their facilities and that the waterfront could be a location where “livability meets profitability.”

Port Commissioner John Spencer said he has had the same thought as Ward, regarding attracting corporate tenants to the waterfront. However, Spencer said, the Port cannot tell Killian Pacific what types of tenants to attract.

Spencer suggested that some of the planned office space in the Vision and Master Plan could be turned into a business-incubator building with reserved space for start-up companies.

David Hansen, principal of the Seattle-based Hansen Design firm, created a waterfront vision and master plan that includes a hotel and conference center, offices, retail, a fuel station and water fountain. The plan has 1,361 commercial, 191 public and 90 hotel parking spaces.

Port Commissioner Larry Keister said providing that much parking would not be good management of the waterfront property.

During public comments, Richard Hamby, of Washougal, said the waterfront is a destination location, and a grocery store selling lawn chairs and gasoline would not be the best use of the site.

Gideon Rodrigo, of Washougal, said food carts or a market area would use a smaller parking lot than traditional retail and restaurant buildings.

“People love food carts,” he said.

Port commissioners are expected to discuss waterfront development options during future meetings. For more information, visit www.portcw.com.