Port to vote on ‘phase 1’ waterfront project design

Plans include 13 mixed-use buildings, vendor market, central plaza

Port of Camas-Washougal commissioners are set to approve the first phase of the Port’s waterfront development plans at their Dec. 16 board meeting.

Roy Kim, of RKm Development, the project’s lead developer, and Matt Brown of Portland-based YBA Architects presented their latest plan for the first phase of the Waterfront at Parkers Landing at the Port’s Dec. 2 meeting.

“We’re very excited to come to this point and to be able to narrow it down to one plan,” Kim said. “We’ve spent time gathering input from the community and getting to know the community – not just by looking at things online but by actually going to various meetings, talking to individual people and small groups. We’re thrilled that we’re here and able to give this update and continue on.”

Brown dubbed the latest plan “Option D1,” following the previous “A,” “B,” “C” and “D” versions released earlier this year to elicit feedback from the public.

“It’s been a long process, but the steps you’ve gone through to include our community and their input have been incredible,” Port Commissioner Larry Keister told Kim and Brown. “It’s the community’s project, and I think you’ve really represented what the community would like to see.”

The plan includes 13 mixed-use buildings for retail, residential and/or industrial use; an amphitheater or performing arts space in the waterfront’s cove; two principal north-south streets; a small traffic roundabout on the southeast corner; a view tower; a vendor market; a central plaza; and a main street running east and west along the waterfront’s edge that could be closed off for festivals or other events.

“You can see that we crystallized some of the big ideas from the previous iterations,” Brown said. “There’s some slight modifications from ‘Option D.’ We’ve got direct connections from the (Highway 14) roundabout and improved parking connections to the existing sites that would benefit those sites. You can see how these buildings are starting to look more real and believable in terms of particular building footprints and suggestion of entries and passages, etcetera. We’ve also refined the footprints of the smaller buildings in between the main street and the waterfront edge.”

The first phase will include the three main streets, the mini-roundabout and four of the bigger buildings near the waterfront.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about, ‘What we do first?'” Brown said. “The intent here is to realize a lot of the significant streets and improvements in terms of the infrastructure, and then build some of the more significant mixed-use buildings on the waterfront first, and build enough of them that we create a nucleus so this thing really gets off the ground adequately and creates enough buzz and energy that other phases can then follow. (We’d) build out some of the principal streets and the roundabout so the bones are there, people can see it, drive through it, feel it.”

Pickleball players want a piece of the action

At the Dec. 2 meeting, Washougal residents Harrison Roberts and Mike Wolfe asked the Port commissioners to consider adding a 12-court indoor pickleball facility to the waterfront development.

“The thing about the game is anybody can play it,” said Roberts, who retired in 2017 after a 26-year career as a builder for the city of Washougal. “The rules are simple. The sport is highly contagious. Once you get playing it, you can’t stop.”

Wolfe, a retired firefighter, and a group of local pickleballers convinced the city of Washougal to turn two dilapidated, unusable tennis courts at Hathaway Park into six pickleball playing surfaces in 2011. He then founded the Columbia River Pickleball Club, which now sports more than 400 members, many of whom play daily at the Washougal courts.

“We have 40, 45 people at Hathaway Park every nice day in the summer, and it’s growing all the time,” Wolfe said. “(But those courts) aren’t usable in winter. One of those buildings that’s back away from the waterfront would be a perfect place to do this.”

Wolfe and Roberts said they believe an indoor pickleball facility would provide a variety of financial benefits and pointed out that pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with more than 2.8 million registered players and a 12-percent increase in players over the past year, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

“Pickleball will give us a steady flow of traffic to depend on for our local businesses,” Roberts said. “This is not just a weekend game. Pickleball is played seven days a week indoors and outdoors. If we had a facility with indoor pickleball courts, you’d have (people) coming in there continuously to play pickleball and spend money. Organized pickleball tournaments are a big draw and generate large amounts of revenue. They generally last two to three days, and players will come in from other states to compete, creating multiple visits to our local retail trades. It’s not only on the waterfront – it will help other existing businesses in the area. A large facility like this can produce large sums of money if managed properly.”

He said the game tends to attract players between the ages of 45 and 80.

“They have money to spend, so let’s help them spend it,” Roberts said.

Keister told Roberts and Wolfe their pickleball plan was “an interesting concept,” and that Port staff members would like to gather more information – and possibly meet with them at a later date – to further discuss the topic.