Port of Vancouver approves prep work for industrial site

By Aaron Corvin, December 11, 2012, The Columbian

Work to prepare a key Port of Vancouver property for potential employers will begin soon, thanks to a $5.3 million contract unanimously approved by the port’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The contract hires Rotschy Inc., a Vancouver excavation and construction company, to install infrastructure, including underground utilities and streets, at the 58-acre portion of the port’s 108-acre, light-industrial-zoned Centennial Industrial Park.

Rotschy’s work is expected to last about eight months in 2013, beginning in January and finishing by the end of August. Furnishing the property with utilities, sidewalks, landscaping and streets is aimed at luring employers to set up shop at the 58-acre parcel, which port officials say is capable of producing 500 family-wage jobs.

Port officials said they hope to have a building up at the site by the end of 2013. The port’s executive director, Todd Coleman, said the port’s available lease space is essentially full, so it’s important to get a “warehouse in the ground” at the Centennial site as soon as possible.

Part of larger effort

The port board’s decision to dress up the Centennial parcel with infrastructure is part of a larger regional effort to offer more shovel-ready land to employers. Spearheaded by the Columbia River Economic Development Council — the Vancouver-based nonprofit jobs promoter and business recruiter — the effort seeks to build up Clark County’s inventory of land set aside for industry.

Even with the improvements, the Centennial Industrial Park will still have 50 acres remaining for future development. The industrial park — located southeast of Vancouver Lake and within reach of key rail and highway corridors — also skirts the boundary of the port’s 154-acre wetland, called the Columbia River Mitigation Bank.

Standards in place

To build infrastructure at the 58-acre site, the port is using a $5.75 million grant it secured from a larger statewide economic stimulus package passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Under the public works contract the port approved with Rotschy, the parcel will be subdivided into seven buildable lots ranging from 5.2 to 11.1 acres.

The port already has an agreement with the city of Vancouver outlining the site’s development standards, which support manufacturing, warehouse and office uses. The 58 acres being prepared for tenants have been designed to provide about 550,000 square feet of building space — four times the space in Fred Meyer’s Grand Central store.

The port received 11 bids for the infrastructure work. The bids were opened on Nov. 29. After determining Rotschy’s $5.3 million bid was the “lowest responsive and responsible” offering, port administrators recommended the Board of Commissioners approve the contract.

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