A quarter Billion dollars and two decades has changed the game .

My most recent article in the Vancouver Business Journal

Drive north along I-5 and just beyond Exit 7, you enter a stretch of highway where cranes and concrete dominate the skyline. You’re seeing the Fourth stage of the seventeen year one hundred thirty three million dollar Salmon Creek Interchange Project which is the primary spark to ignite a fuse that literally changes the face of ClarkCounty.

The population in Salmon Creek increased rapidly in the 1990’s with housing, retail, office space, a hospital, and a college campus replacing what used to be farms and open space. Today, NE 134th Street is used by all local east-west traffic to cross I-5 and I-205, and provides access to both freeways from the Salmon Creek area. The close proximity of traffic signals on NE 134th Street and high traffic volumes in the area created gridlock, traffic back-ups, and a high rate of automobile accidents. It was such a mess that ClarkCounty had a moratorium on development in the surrounding area for many years.

Clearly that has changed.  Companies with vision  have already staked their claim, or are in process.  Scheduled for completion in  less than one year, Spring 2014,  the initial impacts may be to reduce the East – West traffic on 134th by as much as thirty per cent.   The walls have risen on medical clinic announced by RSV Building Solutions last fall that includes Creek Side Medical and Cascadia Women’s Clinic. They gaze upon the massive girders that make up 139th streets final missing section sitting just to the East.

 

Community Home Health Services continues in the permitting process to develop their parcel along 134th, and 29th   Avenue.   Manor Care invested ten million dollars into a state of the art senior care center at the very western end of 139th   Street to take advantage of the proximity with Legacy.

 

The Foster family out of Anacortes purchased the University Building, adjacent to Kaiser Permanente on NE 20th last fall in anticipation of increasing demand for office space. Activity in the office arena has been brisk this spring.   Startup  companies Interject Data Systems and Creative Performance   have located in the Northern Star medical complex, and Life Style Medical Services recently secured space two blocks West of Legacy.

 

 

The second spark  is the Discovery Clean Water Alliance and the improvements that have occurred at the Ridgefield Junction. The DCWA is an  eight year effort, bringing to reality a fifty year vision on how to solve the sewer puzzle in NorthCounty, and  unlocks the vast potential of open flat parcels that exist around the Ridgefield Junction.   A recent feasibility study indicated this strategic investment could make it possible to site multiple employment centers in NorthClarkCounty, potentially creating thousands of jobs.  Having such sites available is a critical element in the Economic Development Strategic plan put in place by the CREDC in 2011.

 

 

The Ridgefield Junction experienced its own multi phase interchange upgrades over the  past five years. With  over twenty nine million dollars invested,  improving the overpass, expanding traffic lanes and building roundabouts to provide convenient access, the groundwork for growth has been laid.

 

Clark Regional WasteWater and the DCWA  partners are moving  steadily forward and anticipate having each piece in  place by 2016 at a cost of around twenty five million dollars.    PeaceHealth SouthWest continues to refine plans for their property.  ClarkCollege has been highly visible in their efforts at locating somewhere in NorthCounty and most bets are that will be Ridgefield.

 

Third there will have been over fifty million spent on the Battleground Interchange, and the widening of SR 502 into the cities core.   ClarkCounty,  has plans on the board  to extend NE 10th   Avenue North, to the Fairgrounds area starting in 2017.   Price tag thirty two million dollars.  ClarkCounty views this as a natural extension of the Salmon Creek Interchange Project, tying the economic drivers of both interchanges together.

 

With our two decades of work we will have created  a vibrant seven mile long economic hub anchored by LegacyHospital and WSUV on the South – the Fairgrounds/Events Center / Amphitheater Complex at the 179th Street interchange, and Peace Health and  Clark  College at exit 14 to the North.  It will include   multiple North-South connecting arterials flanking I-5, much of which is already zoned light industrial with users waiting simply for the County to remove an Urban Hold zone.

 

The investment in the region for these multiple projects will finalize at just over a quarter of a billion dollars.  The projects have been envisioned and  managed through multiple agencies and partnerships.   While I am certain we’ll see continued growth on the East side, the real dramatic changes are going to happen in the North.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 

Jim West is a Commercial Realtor in Vancouver Washington. His specialty is helping local companies Stop Leasing! and Own their business property. He also works as a Tenant Representative - assisting companies to locate and negotiate a successful Lease for their business operations. He has a public workshop series called Commercial Property Success Series.

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