No bites on Washougal waterfront

Port implements ‘Plan B’ after developers fail to respond to request for proposals

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An aerial view of Port of Camas-Washougal properties includes the former Hambleton Lumber Company site (on the right). The port received zero proposals to commercially develop 26.5 acres of land near Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail. (Contributed photo courtesy of Blue Turtle Pro Media)

Area residents dreaming of a thriving mixed-use development along the Washougal waterfront will need to temper their enthusiasm, at least temporarily.

Officials at the Port of Camas-Washougal say they are moving on to “Plan B,” after a fishing expedition for development proposals came up empty-handed.

The port issued its request for proposals (RFP) on Sept. 7, for a piece of property that includes 26.5 acres of prime waterfront land. Port leaders had hoped developers would submit proposals by Oct. 19. When that didn’t happen, the port extended the RFP deadline to Nov. 30, but still had zero responses.

Port Executive Director David Ripp said Monday he wasn’t overly concerned by the lack of RFP responses from developers.

“When we were not seeing anything come in early in the week, I had my suspicions,” Ripp said. “I am not worried. We already have a game plan, and I have already reached out to those developers who requested a packet and discussed why they didn’t respond to the request for proposal.”

Of the 20 packets that were requested, Ripp said six or seven of them went to developers. The others went to realtors and architecture and engineering firms.

Ripp said developers told him it cost time and money to put together a proposal, and they were currently working on other projects. Some developers also expressed concern about their ideas for a waterfront development being available to the public.

“The project is bigger than the firms wanted to tackle,” Port Commissioner Bill Ward said, during a port commission meeting on Dec. 3.

The port’s “Plan B,” as Ripp called it, is to reach out to developers who submit their qualifications and try to negotiate development of the site.

Port Director of Planning and Development Mark Miller said at least four developers are interested in the waterfront site, but do not have the “human capital or manpower” to staff the project.

While the port was waiting to receive development proposals, it issued a RFP to companies interested in serving as a port “owner’s representative” to provide guidance in the planning and development of the waterfront plan. The port received four proposals, and interviewed representatives from three of those firms.

Ripp, Miller and Port Director of Operations Kim Noah interviewed representatives from Leland Consulting Group, of Portland; DAY CPM, a division of the Vancouver-based Otak, and WT Partnership, which has its closest office in Seattle.

A fourth company that submitted a proposal, CBRE Group, of Portland, was not interviewed.

“Based on their proposal, we felt they met more of a project management type of company rather than an owner’s representative,” Ripp said of CBRE Group.

On Dec. 3, Ripp recommended the port move forward with Leland Consulting Group and have them develop a scope of work and cost proposal for their services as the owner’s representative. Commissioners will consider that information at their meeting on Jan. 7, 2019.

Leland Consulting Group has worked with the Port of Vancouver and NBBJ Architects to complete a master plan, recruit hotel and mixed-use developers and bring a new restaurant to Terminal 1, a future project on 10 acres that will be built next to the Columbia Waterfront, LLC development, which opened in September.