Washougal eyes multi-family tax exemption

Program would provide an economic incentive and increase residential opportunities

The Washougal City Council is considering a property tax exemption program for developers of mixed use, multi-family residential housing.

The purpose would be to stimulate the construction of new multi-family housing and rehabilitation of existing vacant and under-utilized buildings for multi-family housing in urban centers. They could be condominiums or apartments, located above offices or retail or commercial businesses.

The addition of multi-family housing in urban centers would be expected to generate commercial activity in those areas.

Establishing a program to encourage mixed-use development would involve the council designating the Town Center Core and East Village, Waterfront Commercial and “E” Street Corridor districts as residential target areas.

“These are distinct areas where things are not being built in,” said Mayor Sean Guard. “It’s an opportunity for businesses in downtown to be more successful.

“At the waterfront, retail and services follow residential,” he added.

The Town Center Core and East Village District, from 15th to 32nd streets, would include the site of a 97-unit apartment complex at 2340 Main St., proposed by Bob Angelo. However, that project may not qualify for tax-exemption, because it would be residential, not mixed-use.

“It is unknown if they will ultimately require mixed-use for eligibility,” City Administrator David Scott said, regarding City Councilors.

The Donald and Angeline Stevenson Off Leash Area, located near Bi-Mart, at 3003 Addy St., is in the East Village District area. The dog park will close Nov. 1.

The 15.97 acres, owned by East Village Investors LLC, is being marketed for sale or lease. The district is envisioned to have a mixture of higher density housing and retail contained within low-rise buildings.

Lone Wolf Investment LLC is the governing member of East Village Investors LLC.

The proposed eligibility criteria for a property tax exemption in the Town Center Core and East Village District would include a requirement that the mixed-use buildings be a minimum of three stories, with no residential units or parking on the ground floor.

The Waterfront Commercial district would include First to Sixth streets. A mixed-use development is among the components of a Parker’s Landing LLC project, on a portion of the former Hambleton Lumber Company property at 335 S. “A” St., Washougal.

The LLC is represented by Lance Killian, of Killian Pacific, a commercial real-estate development and investment company.

The proposed eligibility criteria for a tax exemption in the Waterfront Commercial District would include a requirement that the mixed-use buildings have a minimum of 20 residential units.

The master plan must include at least one minimum three-story commercial, hotel or vertical mixed-use building.

“Tax abatement is critical,” Killian said during the May 23 City Council meeting. “The sooner, the better.”

Councilman Dave Shoemaker encouraged councilors to get a multi-family housing tax exemption program in place.

“The market is ripe,” he said.

Killian said the overall visioning and master planning of the waterfront could involve more than Parker’s Landing LLC and the Port of Camas-Washougal, and the development could be phased.

The thought is that residential development would attract retail on the waterfront.

“There was no retail until there was residential in the Pearl District of Portland,” Killian said. “Retail follows rooftops.”

Guard agreed and referred to the South Waterfront area of Portland.

“There are low vacancies,” he said.

The “E” Street District would include Sixth to 32nd streets. Tax exemption eligibility criteria for that area could include a minimum two-story mixed-use building.

The City Council is expected to have additional discussions about the property tax exemption program during its next workshop, Monday, June 13, at 5 p.m., in City Hall, 1701 “C” St. A public hearing will be held Monday, June 27, during the council meeting at 7 p.m.