Local New Markets Tax Credits advisory committee is formed

Mixed-use library building in Washougal is among four projects to be proposed

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Four projects will be proposed as potential recipients of New Market Tax Credits.

They are a 30,000 square foot and a 60,000 square foot building in the Port of Camas-Washougal Steigerwald Commerce Center, a mixed-use library building in downtown Washougal and a mixed-use commercial building in downtown Camas.

According to Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association President Paul Dennis, concepts of the projects have been determined, but the details are being worked on.

The New Markets Tax Credit program involves an indirect federal subsidy for business and development investment. Tax credits are awarded through annual competitive applications, and awardees sell tax credits to investors.

The U.S. Treasury awards $3.5 billion in credit authority each year.

Wes Hickey, owner of Lone Wolf Development and Lone Wolf Investment, said no one from the City of Washougal or CWEDA has discussed the New Markets Tax Credits application with him, but it would be wonderful news if they have someone lined up to complete a mixed-use project within the downtown.

“Independently, we have done some very preliminary evaluation of a mixed-use project that could include the library,” he said. “Until the architecture firm, FFA Architecture and Interiors Inc., that the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District has contracted with to develop the programming requirements of a new library completes their work — which will include size, parking and interior requirements — it is hard to assess if some type of mixed-use project would make sense or if the community is better served with a library as a stand alone building.”

Hickey said until FFA finishes its work, anything that Lone Wolf looks at is extremely conceptual in nature.

“Part of their work is to also identify potential sites within the downtown area that will meet the space requirements,” he said. “Until there is final determination of the building size and parking requirements, it is hard to know which sites might work.

“Our hope is that the final site chosen will be on or near Main Street,” Hickey added.

Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said there is no concrete proposal regarding a potential mixed-use building in downtown Camas.

“The ones we are hoping will happen are on undeveloped blocks on Northeast Third Avenue,” he said.

Individuals who have agreed to serve on the advisory board of the Community Development Entity include Cathy Garland, Western Washington regional director of the Children’s Home Society; Port of C-W Commissioner Bill Macrae-Smith, Wanda Nelson, center manager of The Meals on Wheels People Camas-Washougal; Camas City Council member Steve Hogan, Amber Barnes, with the Jack, Will & Rob Boys & Girls Club; Lloyd Halverson, from the board of commissioners of the Vancouver Housing Authority; and Washougal City Councilman Brent Boger.

The committee is subject to final certification by the Treasury Department, which could take two to three months.

Consultants Don Mazziotti and Stephen Brooks are helping with the formation of a certified Community Development Entity and serving as guides through the first application process.

They will assist with the implementation of the tax credits, if a local project is selected.

The New Markets Tax Credit Program, established by Congress in 2000, empowers the Treasury Department to grant tax credits to certain projects. For every dollar contributed by a qualified investor, there is a 39 cent credit that goes back to the investor — redeemable at the end of seven years.