Mixed-use development proposed for ‘E’ Street

Washougal Times owner wants to build apartments, retail spaces near restaurant

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A sign detailing a local business owner's proposal for a mixed-use development on "E" Street stands next to the Washougal Times building on Monday, April 24, 2023. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

The owner of the Washougal Times restaurant has submitted an application to the city of Washougal to construct three buildings that will house apartment units as well as retail and industrial space.

The buildings would be located at 1826 “E” Street, to the immediate west and east of the Washougal Times building.

“The proposed project to develop a mixed-use site in two phases,” said Mennen Middlebrooks, the city of Washougal’s city planner. “The completed project will consist of three new buildings. The Washougal Times restaurant building will remain — no changes in use or to the building are proposed as a part of this site plan.”

If the project is approved, first-phase construction could start as soon as September, according to developer Tom Leaptrott, who purchased 2.5 acres of “E” Street property, including the former Heller’s Restaurant building, in 2018.

“We purchased the land from the Heller family with the intent of developing the property after we got the restaurant up and going,” Leaptrott said. “Then we got hit with COVID, which slowed things down. But now we’ve got plans into the city for a site plan review, and we should be hearing something back the first of August.”

The first phase of the project will include the construction of two buildings and the removal of a transmission shop that currently sits in the parcel, according to the proposal.

The six-story Building 2, to be located directly west of the Washougal Times building fronting “E” Street, will include 40 residential units and 2,984 square feet of street-level commercial space.

Building 3, to be located in the southeast corner of the site fronting 20th Street, will be used as a “finished product retailer,” with primary fabrication and/or assembly on-site, and take up 8,153 square feet on one floor, according to the proposal. Parking will be located on the west side of the building.

“I think if there (was) housing available that’s at market rate or below market rate, to me, that’s a great thing,” Middlebrooks said. “But also, having rentable units that are somewhat affordable would be a good thing. And I know in that particular area on ‘E’ Street, there’s not too many taller buildings that are six stories, so in that sense, it’s unique.”

In the second phase, another building will be constructed, and a house and parking lot in the northeast corner of the site will be removed.

Building 4, to be located in the northeast corner of the site fronting “E” Street and adjacent to 20th Street, will feature three stories with 4,490 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor fronting “E” street, five two-story residential units, and parking to the south.

“I had known (Washougal Times head chef/manager) Ben (Jackson) for over 20 years, and his dream was to have his own restaurant, so that was the real big attraction (of the initial purchase),” Leaptrott said. “With that came some land that we could develop. It seemed like a perfect fit, to bring some good dining and social activities (with) the Times and then later develop the property around it to make a real nice spot on ‘E’ Street. It’ll probably be one of the nicest developments on ‘E’ Street that Washougal has seen, for sure.”

Leaptrott added that the development will be “very good for the Washougal Times” and “great for the community.”

“It’s really going to be a fantastic project,” he said.