Vancouver’s Waterfront Development Project may still be under construction, but it’s already drawing more business investment to the city.
At least that’s why Watumull Enterprises, a Hawaiian real estate investment firm, just bought the C Street Retail Plaza and the Murdock Executive Plaza in Downtown Vancouver from Laeroc for $18.8 million. J.W. Watumull, owner of Watumull Enterprises, said he grew interested in the deal, facilitated by Newmark Knight Frank, after watching property values rise in areas near the $1.5 billion Waterfront Development.
“We think Downtown Vancouver is experiencing a renaissance with the Waterfront Development,” Watumull said. “We see some influx of new business, and these properties are mixed use.”
The Waterfront Development Project, which began in 2015, is rebuilding Vancouver’s Columbia River waterfront with a $35-million park, a 90-foot cable stay pier jutting out over the water, and a collection of buildings that will house several new restaurants, retail spaces, residential units, office space and a hotel. The first restaurants are set to open in late July 2018, with much of the rest of the offerings opening by Sept. 30, 2018, according to Barry Cain, president of Gramor Development, which is spearheading the project.
The C Street Retail Plaza, a 48,978-square-foot facility anchored by Regal Cinemas at 801 C St., is already fully occupied. Watumull said he plans to renovate the site, but won’t expand it.
The Murdock Executive Plaza, a 51,743-square-foot facility at 703 Broadway St., is 99 percent leased but will need a new top floor anchor tenant in the near future, since the Murdock Trust plans to relocate to the waterfront once the first office buildings are complete.
“We will have an opportunity to re-tenant the top floor,” Watumull said. “We’ll also probably rename the building as well, since the Trust will no longer be there.”
Watumull said he’s doesn’t yet know what the new name will be.
Watumull Enterprises also owns four other buildings in Vancouver: A retail plaza in Orchards, Mill Plain Heated Storage, a former Fish and Wildlife building on Grand Avenue, and a warehouse facility between east First and Second streets. The company also owns several buildings in Portland.
“We’ve been investing in the Portland Metro area for about 15 years, so it’s just a logical extension to go across the river,” Watumull said.
Kevin Shannon, NKF’s Capital Markets West Coast president, said he expects the property market in Downtown Vancouver will continue to thrive and grow as the Waterfront Project continues.
“The Vancouver CBD (Central Business District) submarket has been resilient and over the past two years, office vacancy has fallen to 6.6 percent across all office classes,” Shannon said. “The market is undergoing a transformation led in part by the $1.5 billion waterfront development. These two properties are poised to benefit from this Downtown Vancouver revitalization.”Watumull also said buzz is growing in the development community about the project, which will likely draw even more investors in the near future.“Any time there’s this kind of money going into an area, it’s going to create opportunities,” Watumull said.