Laying the groundwork for economic success

The Washougal City Council is currently considering a proposal that if approved would provide property tax exemptions for developers of new mixed-use, multi-family residential housing projects.

In a current economic climate that has demonstrated a clear need for more affordable multi-family housing, as well as the need for additional commercial business stimulation, this is an idea that couldn’t come at a better time for Washougal.

In recent years, the city has experienced what some have described as a resurgence in downtown commercial development and interest. City Administrator David Scott recently reported to The Columbian that approximately 20 new businesses have moved into downtown Washougal during the past five years. More than 250 new jobs have been created, and an additional 75 to 100 jobs are expected to arrive within the next two years.

A tax exemption like the one being proposed would help build on that success, and more importantly would go a long way toward laying the groundwork for a thriving economy and sustaining it for years to come.

Making this proposal a reality would mean a vote by the City Council to create as residential target areas the “Town Center Core and East Village District,” from 15th to 32nd streets; “Waterfront Commercial” area from First to Sixth streets; and an “E Street Corridor.”

During a recent City Council meeting, as reported in today’s Post-Record, Mayor Sean Guard touted the tax exemption program and explained the positive impact it could have on these sections of the city on several different levels.

“These are distinct areas where things are not being built in,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity for businesses in downtown to be more successful. At the waterfront, retail and services follow residential.”

There are already projects that have been talked about that stand to benefit from this kind of exemption.

One is located on property owned by East Village Investors LLC, that is being marketed for sale or lease. It would have a mixture of higher density housing and retail in low-rise buildings, according to the Post-Record article. Another is a mixed-use development that is part of the Parker’s Landing LLC project, on a portion of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property.

The City Council will continue to discuss the proposal during a June 13 workshop, and a public hearing is scheduled for June 27.

This proposal has the potential to be just what the city’s economy needs, coming in at just the right time.