Vancouver’s Lower Grand Employment Area is Booming

Author: Stacy J. Frost, PE Published: November 1, 2017

When you think of job creation and economics, look no further than the Lower Grand Employment Area (LGEA).

The City of Vancouver, Washington recognized the potential for the LGEA to help preserve jobs in the city’s core and drive regional job creation and growth. The City also recognized that the LGEA was underperforming as an employment district and took steps to help address the underlying conditions holding back the area’s full potential. This started with a subarea plan and eventually led Vancouver to apply for and obtain an area-wide planning grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA grant funded a stuLGEA Featured 2dy of the LGEA to look at environmental and infrastructure constraints to economic development in the LGEA. The work included stakeholder outreach to businesses and the nearby community to help understand how investments in the area, including improved stormwater management, traffic infrastructure, and assistance resolving environmental cleanup (Brownfield) issues, could help existing businesses expand and attract potential businesses to the LGEA.

The LGEA is a prime example of public sector investment and engagement spurring private development. The City convened a series of focused work groups with LGEA business and property owners to identify specific opportunities and constraints and then develop a set of actionable solutions to address them. This culminated in an Action Plan that is helping guide redevelopment in the area. As an additional result, the City was able to build closer relationships with the business community and gain trust among businesses to establish the partnerships that would lead to development in the LGEA.

A local commercial construction company, JH Kelly, is investing $10 million in the redevelopment of a brownfield and former Superfund site in the LGEA. The new 58,064 square foot, light industrial building development will allow JH Kelly to consolidate three Vancouver-area facilities into a single location, reducing cost for JH Kelly and its customers.  In exchange for a reduction in permit fees and some right-of-way vacation, JH Kelly entered into a development agreement with the City and is constructing some of the infrastructure improvements identified in the LGEA Action Plan.  MFA is providing civil engineering and landscape architecture services for the new development.

The commercial real estate development company, Killian Pacific, made an early mark in the redevelopment of the LGEA with the Grand Central Commercial Center. Anchored by Fred Meyer, Grand Central set the standard for the area in terms of design quality and accessibility. Despite some initial concern, many of the businesses in the LGEA have come to see that the mLGEA Featured 3ix of retail and services in Grand Central provides a positive amenity for their workers, customers, and other visitors to the area.

Killian Pacific followed up on its earlier success in Grand Central with its more recent purchase of the QUAD property. MFA played a key role in helping resolve critical environmental issues and facilitate the transaction and Killian Pacific’s aggressive development schedule.

The Home Depot QuoteCenter—itself a 45,000 square foot building—will anchor a 400,000 square foot office campus. Approximately 200 workers will be located in the QuoteCenter by June 2018. The area is expected to become a space for tech firms and life sciences companies.

Maul Foster & Alongi is proud to have had the opportunity to assist Vancouver with planning, engineering, and environmental cleanup in the LGEA. We continue to provide planning and civil engineering to several private sector industries in the LGEA.

More information on this exciting redevelopment can be found in recent articles by The Columbian.


    “MFA has been an ideal collaborator in adding value on project execution, turning obstacles into opportunities. They provide a consistent and committed focus on understanding and serving the client’s needs in a timely, professional, and efficient manner.”

Lance Killian, President, Killian Pacific