Port unveils concepts for Washougal waterfront

Community’s input sought on plans for development

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The Port of Camas-Washougal's "Boulevard" concept design for its waterfront development. (Contributed illustrations courtesy of the Port of Camas-Washougal)

The Port of Camas-Washougal’s waterfront development should take advantage of the area’s natural features and incorporate local history, the owner of RKm Development said at a “Lunch With Dave” event, held July 10 at the Port of Camas-Washougal office.

Roy Kim, who was chosen in April to develop the 35-acre Parker’s Landing site into a mixed-use urban center, told a crowd of about 30 people that he’s making determinations about what community members want to see from the development based on surveys conducted by himself and Port staff members.

“The views are amazing. The marina is an asset and the waterfront is an asset. That’s why people come here,” he said. “We looked at a lot of old pictures to try to get an idea, because the history of the site — the Parker House, we talked about that, we talked about the people that came here very early – we want to take all of that into account when we’re master planning.”

Kim said that his company approaches each of its projects with a “blank slate” and a goal of producing a unique master plan tailored to the “personality and character” of the community.

“We want to be smart (with) density,” he said. “We want to be sustainable. We want to make sure this thing works five, 10, 15, 20 years from now in terms of energy usage and efficiency. We don’t want to build something that’s going to be out-of-date soon. The future is here, and we’ll keep track of technology so we’re efficient. Connectivity to the marina and the Gorge and the parks and the walking paths, we know that’s important here. That helps us think about how things come together.”

At the July 10 event, Kim talked about two of his projects: Downtown Rockwood, a mixed-use office, multi-family residential, plaza and play area on 5.5 acres in Gresham, Oregon; and Bethany Village, a mixed-use town center with retail, apartments, condominiums, offices, an athletic club and senior living in Portland.

RKm Development has been in business since 1991 and has 370 employees.

“We’re fortunate — we’ve had opportunities to build high-density residential, senior housing, retail and offices, so we know how they mix, and we can build individual ones as we go,” Kim said. “We’re a family, so we approach our business that way and approach it that way with all of our relationships.”

At the Port commissioners’ July 1 meeting, Wally Hobson of the Portland-based Leland Consulting Group provided a glowing review of RKm Developent’s finances, praising the company’s strong returns, high degree of liquidity and relatively low amount of debt.

“In a nutshell, his financials are very, very strong,” Hobson said. “I was impressed with his financial strength. I think his ability financially to do this project is clearly there.”

The Port has posted three concept designs on its website to elicit feedback from community members.

The Boulevard concept “focuses on maximizing waterfront visibility with the buildings designed in an east/west pattern,” according to the website. “The parking is concentrated to the north of the property to allow the building designs to have the best waterfront view possible. The parking design produces a natural waterfront flow for people exploring the area.”

The Esplanade concept “includes a boardwalk to promote pedestrian flow between businesses and the waterfront trail,” according to the website. “This design works very well for waterfront restaurants facing the river, and puts the pedestrian traffic right at the store front. The interior parking allows for flow to the north and south and can also be developed in the future.”

The Common concept “provides common spaces for people to gather throughout the entire development,” according to the website. “The building designs provide different viewpoints of the river and surrounding area. All storefronts and buildings lead to the center common plaza area to promote community gathering. This design provides a designated green space that naturally flows into the waterfront park and trail.”

At the July 10 event, Kim presented three more concepts, titled “Main Street,” “Public Amenities” and “Character,” which are also available for viewing on the Port’s website.

Kim said that he will ask community members about possible tenants for the center. Kim’s list of possibilities included: community college; hospital/clinic; other schools or educational uses; county, city or public offices; library; state offices; brewery; large restaurants; food hall or market hall; artist colony; water park; corporate offices; mixed-use residential apartments; senior living and/or over-55 apartments; supermarket; for-sale condominiums and/or townhomes; and co-working spaces.

Paul Greenlee, a Washougal city councilman, said that Kim should consider incorporating business that “aren’t conventional retail.”

“Part of what we’re trying to create here is a ‘happening’ place that the new generations want to come to for their small businesses, for their start-ups and their growing businesses,” Greenlee said. “That means … more restaurants, food courts, specialty foods and maybe some ’boutique-y’ type things. That strikes me as a great opportunity here, especially to tie in with the two cities.”

Rchard Hamby, a Washougal resident, asked about Kim’s thoughts on “the balance between the local needs and wishes and … creating a destination.”

“You can bring some outside money, essentially, into this area,” Hamby said. “One of the concerns is whether the development here would detract from the other downtowns. I think you need to bring in outside money to not do that. That’s certainly something to consider going forward.”

Kim is scheduled to appear at an Aug. 7 open house at the Port office, and at two Camas-Washougal events — Pirates in the Plaza and Wheels & Wings — on Aug. 24. He said his hope is to gather as much input from the community as possible.

“We’re always looking for input … and that’s part of the process here. We do that with all of our developments,” Kim said. “We want to understand the community and spend more time here.”

At the July 10 meeting, Port commissioners approved a motion to enter into an agreement with YBA Architects, which will provide design services for the “Phase 1 Master Plan” at the Parker’s Landing site.