A large chunk of RKm Development’s most important work on the Hyas Point waterfront development project in 2022 didn’t show up in the company’s most recent presentation to Port of Camas-Washougal leaders.
That was partially by design.
“This (presentation) will be a lot of pretty pictures, but the behind-the-scenes stuff is really what’s been taking a lot of the time this year — unit layout, common areas, stairwells, electrical rooms, trash rooms, service entrances, those kinds of things,” Channa Kim, RKm’s special projects manager, said during a Port commission meeting on Dec. 6. “It’s kind of tucked away.”
Those “pretty pictures” provided Port leaders with the most complete and detailed look yet at the Portland-based development company’s vision of the project, which the Port envisions as “a lively, walkable place with community gathering and character spaces, commercial, retail, mixed-use and residential uses,” with a design that will “honor the natural beauty and history of the site and the community, and support the creation of a local and regional identity for the cities of Washougal and Camas.”
“Hopefully it’s looking more realistic and lifelike,” Kim said.
Port Chief Executive Officer David Ripp told the Post-Record that RKm is scheduled to break ground on the first phase of construction in the summer or early fall of 2023.
“We just finished our design documents, kind of that last step before we go into construction documents, and we’re starting to look at pricing plans and financial packages,” Kim said during the meeting. “Our current timeline is still going out to bid next year in the first or second quarter, and then going from there. It’s been a real team effort, but we’re really excited that this is getting some traction and moving forward.”
The first phase of the project will feature several streets, including a main thoroughfare stretching east to west, along the Columbia River, and four buildings that will house 276 apartment units and 56,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
“The four buildings have their own distinct characteristics,” Channa said. “The first building is village-lodge inspired, with sloped roofs and structures. The second building is inspired by the trees and forests around here. This third building is inspired by the basalt formations in the Gorge — it’s got this cool ‘in-and-out’ feature on the exterior fa?ade to mimic the formations. The last building is inspired by the (region’s) glacial history, so we came up with a white exterior facade.
“We’re looking at more ways to incorporate those things into the design so it feels kind of unique, but also homey.”
RKm Development owner Roy Kim said that the company is trying to incorporate office space into the buildings to provide as much variety as possible.
“We’ll have residential and commercial on the ground floor,” he said. “But there’s this idea of trying to mix in as many different uses as possible, whether it’s hospitality or other types of businesses. And one of the ways to bring in different uses is offices. Apartment (residents) typically clear out in the middle of the day and come back in the evening and weekends. Offices are occupied in the middle of the day. It helps the whole area if it has 20-hour activity. That’s one of the reasons why we want to try to push offices, but obviously it’s been difficult in the current market.”
Roy Kim also stated that the company is receiving “some interest” in its restaurant pads, which will be around 4,000 square feet in size.
“We’re looking at smaller restaurants as opposed to the ones that are at the Vancouver waterfront that might be 12,000 or 15,000 square feet,” he said.
“We think we can be a prime (location) for restaurants, but we’re also hoping to get a good mix of restaurants and restaurants that really create that active (vibe),” Channa added. “It’s really important for that front street to be really active.”
RKm also hopes to incorporate a splash pad and small amphitheater into the development, according to Channa.
“Every iteration of your presentations gets more beautiful,” Port commissioner Cassi Marshall said. “I so appreciate the focus on the natural elements that you guys (have incorporated into the design). I think people are really going to appreciate that. It fits in well with our local environment. I also couldn’t help thinking how these might be perfect live-work places, too, because (it would be a) phenomenal place to have a home office with a view. It kind of feeds into that 20-hour thing with even more density here at more times, perhaps. … Your designs keep getting more impressive, in my opinion.”
Commissioner Larry Keister also said that he was impressed by the presentation.
“I think it’s absolutely incredible,” Keister told Roy and Channa. “You took the vision that we had and just made it even better. When we first met you, the professional relationship that we felt and the staff felt working with you, we were very comfortable with that, and that professional relationship has certainly blossomed over the last couple of years, and I hope the cities (of Camas and Washougal) have the same feeling. Working with somebody with this vision and the ability to put this all together (has been great).
“I think the amount of detail that you put together is incredible. I’m very pleased. This project is going to benefit the entire east Clark County, not just Camas and Washougal. This is going to change our area for the better.”
Commissioner John Spencer praised RKm for being “very, very consistent in (its) message and vision.”
“And that’s building wonderful trust,” he said. “I feel very confident that you’re doing what we hoped you would do, and that’s a great feeling.”
Roy and Channa heaped similar praise on Port leaders.
“I would like to thank the commissioners for their continued support, because that is (a big deal),” Roy said. “I’ve also worked in a situation where I didn’t have that support, and this is a huge difference. The experience that we’ve had with (Port Chief Executive Officer) Dave (Ripp) and his team (has been) great. We have a partnership that works.”