Camas OKs massive mixed-use development

Grass Valley to include office campus, 276 apartments, artisan grocery market

This illustration gives a rough idea of what the two smaller office buildings inside the future Grass Valley development in west Camas might look like. Architects have tried to use muted colors and sleek materials to give the mixed-use development a modern, clean look that will blend well with the nearby Fisher Investments' office campus.

Another view of the future Holland Partner Group's three-story Camas headquarters, off Northwest Fisher Creek Drive and Northwest 38th Avenue. The project is expected to bring in $164 million in private investment and create 1,200 new jobs within the city of Camas.

Camas officials have approved plans to build a massive mixed-use development on 35 acres in west Camas, near Fisher Investments’ headquarters, off Northwest Fisher Creek Drive and Northwest 38th Avenue.

Spearheaded by Vancouver-based property developers, the Holland Partner Group, the project will construct an office complex with two 70,700-square-foot buildings and one 110,000-square-foot building, as well as a 276-unit apartment complex and a one-story, 20,000-square-foot artisan grocery market, on Camas’ western boundary with the city of Vancouver.

The project is expected to bring in $164 million in private investment and create 1,200 new jobs within the city of Camas.

“This fulfills the (city’s) vision of having this area create jobs — non-polluting jobs,” Vancouver attorney Randy Printz, who represents the developer, told Camas leaders at a public hearing that lasted more than three hours Monday night.

Not everyone was so enthusiastic about the new development.

Residents from the nearby Awbrey Glen at Fisher’s Landing neighborhood filled the Camas City Council chambers Monday night to speak out against the Grass Valley development, which they claim will disrupt their quality of life and negatively impact the environment.

“We are not very happy with what’s going on,” said Awbrey Glen resident Jiri Vasat, pointing out that about 30 residents from the 44-home neighborhood came out to speak against the Grass Valley development’s current design plans. “We don’t want to stop the development, but the current design has negative impacts on safety, security, privacy and quality of life … especially to the 10 single-family homes facing north, toward the development.”

The Awbrey Glen residents were mostly concerned about the southern edge of the mixed-use development, which would place three-story apartment buildings and a parking lot with garages and carports directly north of 10 single-family homes that have large picture windows and layouts that place bathrooms and living rooms in direct view of the planned multi-family housing project.

“We are willing to compromise,” Vasat said. “We would like the developer to limit the height of buildings 5, 6 and 7 (those closest to the Awbrey Glen neighborhood) to two-story, extend the green belt (in between the two developments) to 50 feet (wide), build a solid, 8-foot fence and plant 16-foot evergreen trees.”

Printz said the developers have met with the concerned Awbrey Glen residents in the hope of appeasing them and finding a good compromise.

He said, for example, that the Holland developers had agreed to move the three-story apartment buildings closest to the housing development about 10 feet to the north “to provide further separation from properties to the south;” lower roof levels; add a 6-foot-tall fence; lower the parking lot nearest Awbrey Glen so headlights would not bounce into nearby homes; dead-end a multi-use trail that was slated to potentially connect to Awbrey Glen; and add about 32 cedar trees and other deciduous and evergreen trees to provide a better buffer between the development and Awbrey Glen homes.

“We believe we’ve more than mitigated these issues,” Printz said.

In late May, three Awbrey Glen residents, including Vasat, filed formal appeals of Camas Planning Manager Robert Maul’s determination that the Grass Valley development plans would have no significant negative impact on the environment and met all State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements.

In the SEPA appeals, the residents said a 150-foot green belt was necessary and claimed city staff had overlooked the presence of protected species including red-tailed hawks and cutthroat trout on the site.

After three hours of back-and-forth testimony, slideshow presentations and deliberation, the city councilors unanimously agreed with Maul’s finding that the project met the state’s environmental regulations and denied the SEPA appeals. They also voted unanimously to approve the development agreement for the Grass Valley Master Plan, saying city planners and the developers had done a thorough job of mitigating the Awbrey Glen neighbors’ concerns.

“Based on the substantial, and I must say compelling, evidence in (the staff report), I move to approve … the development agreement and tenant master plan,” Camas Mayor Pro Tem Don Chaney said at the conclusion of the three-hour hearing.

The other five Camas councilors agreed.

Traffic mitigation necessary, apartments will be market-rate rentals

In response to concerns about traffic and congestion on nearby streets, including the already busy intersection at Southeast 192nd Avenue and Southeast 20th Street, Printz said the exhaustive traffic study proved developers will need to make improvements as part of their development agreement.

Specifically, Holland will need to add a second westbound left-turn lane at the 192nd/20th intersection and retime the traffic signal to allow for additional greenlight time along Northeast 192nd Avenue. Those improvements must be made prior to occupancy of the development’s first building.

Headed by CEO and Chairman Clyde Holland, the Holland Partner Group formed in 2001, owns more than 15,000 residential units, manages close to 25,000 additional units and has nearly 7,000 more residential units under development and construction on the West Coast, including several projects in Washington and Oregon.

Many of the company’s residential units offer upscale apartment and condo living. The group’s Ladd building in downtown Portland, for instance, offers apartments — studios as well as one- and two-bedroom units — that range in price from $1,340 to $3,900 a month. At the group’s Domaine at Villebois apartments in Wilsonville, Oregon, a 527-square-foot studio apartment rents for $1,265 a month. And at the Rowlock in Hillsboro, Oregon, a 1,252-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment goes for $2,010 a month.

On Monday, Printz dispelled rumors that the development might allow per-night rentals, in an Airbnb-style situation, saying that was not the case and that all of the apartments would be market-rate rentals, and most would have 12-month lease agreements.

In its pre-application proposal, the developer requested permitting for 600 parking stalls for the multi-family development, which would be “sufficient for all units to be (two or more) bedroom units.”

For more information about the Monday night public hearing on the Grass Valley development and related SEPA appeals, visit ci.camas.wa.us/yourgovernment/minuteagendavideo, click on the June 18 regular city council “meeting details,” scroll down the page and then click on the “AI 18-130” link.