Members of Vancouver City Council approve acquisition of downtown property

Photo courtesy city of Vancouver
Photo courtesy city of Vancouver

This acreage is of particular interest to city officials due to its close proximity to two proposed transit hubs: C-TRAN’s Bus Rapid Transit Mill Plain Blvd line and a light rail stop connected to the Interstate Bridge replacement project

Leah Anaya
For Clark County Today

Several high-priced agenda items were approved at Tuesday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, including a $12-million acquisition of 3.18 acres of property in downtown. The lot, dubbed Library Square, is located at Evergreen Boulevard and C Street and consists of five vacant parcels. This acreage is of particular interest to city officials due to its close proximity to two proposed transit hubs: C-TRAN’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line for Mill Plain Blvd and a light rail stop connected to the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) project.

Monies for the acquisition were borrowed from other city budget items, including $4 million from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) fund and $8 million from the General Fund. However, the Parking and Water Funds will each send $4 million to the General Fund in order to cover the costs as part of Interfund Loans. A sixth parcel will be donated to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library by the current owners, Evergreen Investors, LLC as a part of the deal.

The staff report for the interfund loan and acquisition reads that the “purchase price for the parcels is less than the appraised value,” but doesn’t list what the actual appraisal price was. Searching each parcel on the County Assessor’s GIS website shows that the total of all five parcels is listed most recently (January 1, 2022) at $6,268,060, which included increases for each parcel from the 2021 assessment.

“When the City considers a property for acquisition, we don’t rely on the County’s assessed value and instead order an appraisal by a certified appraiser, who performs an independent market analysis to determine the value of the property,” explained Patrick Quinton, economic development director for the city of Vancouver, in an email to Clark County Today. “In this case, our appraiser determined the value of the Library Square properties to be $18 million due to the properties’ development potential and the price of similar property sales downtown. While we believed the property to be of strategic importance to the City, we initially decided to hold off on purchasing the property. However, after the seller indicated their willingness to include part of the value of the property as a donation, we decided that the acquisition was a prudent investment for the City.”

While the staff report, written by City Manager Eric Holmes, says that the city can expect to earn money at some point from the purchase, the city “will not pursue immediate redevelopment of the property and will therefore be unable to recoup any investment in the property in the near term.” It’s unclear what the definition of “near term” is here, nor how long it will be until either project (BRT and IBR), which are both not finalized, is underway and able to earn some money back for the city.

“Because of its location,” Holmes said in the staff report, “the property is an ideal location for future redevelopment and, by owning the parcels, the City will be in a position to ensure that any redevelopment of the property maximizes public benefits to the city as well as incorporates the interests of local partners, including FVRL.”

Photo courtesy city of Vancouver
Photo courtesy city of Vancouver

Despite public comment at the meeting against the matter, council members unanimously passed the resolution to agenda items 12 and 13, which were, respectively, Purchase and Sale Agreement and Donation Acceptance for Real Estate Acquisition and Library Square Property Acquisition and Associated Interfund Loan without discussion. Item 12 is listed as having no prior Council review.

According to the aforementioned staff report, the land acquisition will accomplish several strategic plan alignment goals, such as to “Strengthen commercial, retail and community districts throughout the city; Make downtown Vancouver a vibrant destination for the community and the region.”

According to the Washington Secretary of State Website, the property owner company, Evergreen Investors, LLC, is Killian Pacific out of Portland, Oregon. The company has not responded to requests for comment from Clark County Today.

Do you agree with Vancouver's proposed purchase of property to serve as a light rail stop connected to the I-5 Bridge replacement project?*
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