Work on mixed-use building in downtown Washougal leaves some scratching heads

Construction is not related to future Washougal library

timestamp icon
category icon Latest News, News, News, Washougal

A construction project happening in the heart of downtown Washougal has raised many people’s hopes that the long-awaited, new Washougal library building is finally going up.

Unfortunately for those eager to utilize the new library, that is not the case.

“We know that people are seeing some activity on the future library site, and that this is causing much confusion about what is happening and where we are in the process,” said Washougal librarian Zoe Nash. “We have had the opportunity to be good neighbors with the new construction that is happening next door to our site and letting the construction company use (Fort Vancouver Regional Library’s) portion of the property as a staging area for their equipment.”

The Friends of Washougal Community Library (FWCL) group posted similar warnings on its Facebook page earlier this month, stating that they were hearing from people who thought the library was being built on its future site in downtown Washougal.

“It is not,” FWCL stated. “The building is a multi-use complex, with retail on the lower floor and living units on the upper floors.”

A sign posted to the fence surrounding the construction site also may be causing some confusion. The top half of the sign features the words “Washougal Community Library” in prominent lettering while the bottom half of the sign includes a diagram of the future library and information related to fundraising efforts for the new library building.

“As you can see from the sign, we are still fundraising. Donations are always welcome,” FWCL stated on its Facebook page.

But some residents said the sign was problematic.

“Remove the deceiving signage (and) maybe folks won’t be so confused,” Washougal resident Tim Laidlaw — who recently played an instrumental role in pushing Camas city officials to hasten the revamp of the Camas skatepark — wrote in response to FWCL’s Facebook post. “I, too, believed this was the new library being built, especially with the ‘new library’ banner. I stand corrected, but the new signage, I believe, created much of the confusion.”

Portland real estate company Edlen & Co. broke ground on the $26 million multi-use complex in downtown Washougal in late 2023, and hopes to complete construction by this fall, according to Edlen co-founder Matt Edlen.

“The goal of the project is to celebrate Washougal and its place in history,” Edlen told The Post-Record in 2023. “You’ve got the new library that’s going in next door, you’ve got the town center (that’s expanding) — there’s been a lot of investment in the evolution and continued growth … This is a project really meant to be very respectful around the values of Washougal, while at the same time giving people an opportunity to connect to a place that, I think, is really unique and really special.”

The development will include 46 apartments; 49 off-street parking stalls; and approximately 1,200 square feet of retail space — which will most likely house a small restaurant or coffee shop and “spaces to hang out,” according to Edlen — in a six-story building being built at 1625 Main St., on a vacant lot owned by Washougal developer Wes Hickey, who donated the adjacent, 17,000-square-foot lot in downtown Washougal for the future Washougal library.

“We’re very excited to be investing in Washougal,” Edlen said. “The last couple of years have taught us a lot about how we live our lives and what we want in them, and one of those values we’ve heard about is finding places where you have access to the vibrancy of a city for jobs and things like that, but, at the same time, have access to a lifestyle that gives you a little bit of perspective. We’re very excited to be investing there, and we intend to be there for a long time.”

As of September 2023, FWCL and FVRL have raised $431,000 for the future Washougal library, according to Judy Musa, the FVRL’s development officer.

“FVRL is currently still fundraising for the new library building,” Nash added. “We are working with the Friends of Washougal Community Library as well as the FVRL Foundation on active fundraising and hope to have more updates as the year progresses.”

For more information about the new library and fundraising activities, visit or washougallib