Thursday, March 6, 2008

Vancouver's Waterfront -- The Boise Cascade Property

Graymor Development has recently completed the purchase of the old Boise Cascade property on the Columbia River waterfront of the City of Vancouver. With approximately 30 acres of land at the edge of the River, Graymor is in the planning stages for layout, infrastructure and financing of the development. Graymor is looking for public support from the City of Vancouver for the project, including financing and completion of transportation improvements to create greater accesibility to the site from downtown Vancouver; the BNSF existing railroad berm is the barrier between downtown and the waterfront.

At this point, there is a shortfall in funding of the needed roadway improvements to the tune of some $15 million from the expected public participation. City Staff and the City Council are working with other public partners, including the County and the State to assist in supporting the funding shortfall. The City Council is also beginning discussions about other potential funding sources.

The following is correspondence and request for response I recently received regarding this issue:

The truth finally emerges!!Just where in hell does the City of Vancouver envision raising $40 Million for their initial investment at Boise?? \The estimate to synchronize the traffic lights on Mill Plain is only $20 Million, and the City has been tried (and failed) to fund that for at least 5 years.The City doesn't have the $400,000 it needs right now to fund the Gang Task Force for this year, or the $1 Million they need for it next year...how can anyone justify even considering spending any public money on what is a private development at the Boise Cascade site??And why in hell would anyone work to deliberately create the kind of traffic congestion in Downtown Vancouver, other than to eventually try to use those 20,000 additional car trips to justify even more outrageous spending in Downtown?? Do you think they might try and build a streetcar line once they gat all of those car trips?? I sure do!!This whole project is a house of cards, and the City can't afford to pay that kind of money into Gramor's project without some sort of significant tax increase, and that means a ballot measure that wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing. Why continue this charade??Still very much a developing debacle at Boise Cascade. This isn't about development, it's about money and power in The 'Couv.

My Response:

Yes, disappointing that we didn't get any financial support from the State.
Interesting to see how Graymor proceeds...with the public participation in the project continuing to struggle to find solid ground.

With the present challenges of funding programs like the gang taskforce, it is difficult to keep an eye on the long-range picture.
I'm certain we'll have serious conversations about reprioritizing to support the police department.
However, I also think there needs to be resources focused on the prevention/intervention aspects of gangs.
(I'm working on some of those types of projects now...)
The government and police department can't be expected to curb gang activity through enforcement only.
The costs to hire all the police and build all the jail space needed would bankrupt the public.

Anyway, I digress there....

Here's how I see the Boise site:

For every $1 of public money invested in the infrastructure of the Boise Site, it's estimated that $30 of private money will be spent on the development.
The project will have office spaces, housing, restaurants, shops, etc., to the tune of some $1.3 billion investment by private development.
Lots of jobs (during construction and afterwards, keeping folks on our side of the river), housing (building homes where the water/sewer/etc. is in place or nearby...reducing sprawl and ultimate costs to the public), shopping (helping keep retail spending on our side of the river), and public access to the waterfront (trails, open space...presently not available because Boise is a private property on the river).
All of this bodes well for the sustainable future of our community. More jobs, more housing, more shopping opportunities, more public access...resulting in more tax $$$ to the City, C-TRAN, County, Library, State, etc.
If I recall correctly, the project at full build out will result 1 million square feet of office space, 10 acres of public space and around 2,500 residential units.
Really important to me is the approximate 2,500 new permanent jobs that will be located there.
The estimate is that at buildout, this project will generate $235 million in new state and local taxes over the following 25 years...helping future city councils pay for those police/fire/etc.
Another $150 million in taxes is estimated to go to the State.
OVERALL, a pretty good return to the public for a few million now....in my opinion.

2 comments:

kate poland said...

I am very interested in anyone willing to take up the challenge of mayor.

However, I have done study on light rail, and it does not seem feasible at this time...rapid bus transit is better.

I would love to share i-5 facts!

However, I also agree with another poster who said TAX (or TOLL) is not acceptable!

I saw that you are one of many, including Pollard, who got a raise this year. Lucky for you. I got a 10 cent raise not too many years back, and am hoping to get that much again this year.

If I had a 7% raise, I would get about 3 quarters instead of a dime.

Perhaps, as a gesture of empathy, those who run for office this term can forgo the annual raise, and any Christmas bonus packages?

That could make at least a few more dollars available in the budget.

It could help win voters too.

Tim Leavitt said...

Thank you Kate for your input and feedback.

Indeed, for high capacity transit throughout Clark County, light rail doesn't appear to fit in the forseeable future. I was a Steering Committee member for the recently completed High Capacity Transit study completed by RTC. The conclusions there were in-line with your remarks.
However, for the Columbia River Crossing project, light rail transit does meet the federal criteria for receiving federal funds. As a side point, the CTRAN Board of Directors agreed to the extension of light rail from Expo Center to Clark College, as long as the feds pay for it's construction.

As for council compensation, to be candid, I didn't even realize we were getting a raise until I read your post!

I've been inclined to return a good portion of my council pay back into the community via contributions to non-profits like ARC of Clark County, Share House,
Council for the Homeless, etc. I also decided last year to make direct paycheck contributions to the Everybody Plays Scholarship program, allowing low income youth to participate in summer camp programs. Also, chose to start a scholarship for Clark College students studying engineering. There are a lot of very generous citizens in our community giving back...it's quite fulfilling to know that in some way, as small as it may be, you're making a positive difference. We're all in this together...

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by. Do take care and keep in touch!
tim