The Downtown-South/Waterfront Opportunity Zone (census tract 53011042400) is in the western portion of the City. The tract is located within the City Center focus area and the Esther Short neighborhood. The neighborhood is the City’s commercial, cultural, financial and municipal center. Within the neighborhood is Vancouver’s vibrant and livable Downtown with its numerous small shops, restaurants, entertainment, and riverfront areas, and is home to a growing number of residents, employees and visitors. The Downtown-East and Fourth Plain-Lower Grand opportunity zones are located adjacent to and east of this zone, creating a concentration of zones in Vancouver’s historic core.
The tract is characterized by a mixture of higher density, multi-story apartments and office buildings with ground floor retail and restaurant uses, along with numerous single-story commercial buildings, surface parking lots, and parks and open space. City Hall, the historic Clark County Courthouse, the Vancouver Convention Center, the five-acre Esther Short Park, the seasonal Farmers Market, and Amtrak passenger rail station are located in this area. The tract is served by The Vine, the first bus rapid transit (BRT) line within the greater Portland metro area, which connects Downtown to major destinations east of I-5 including Clark College and Vancouver Mall. The neighborhood is primarily zoned for mixed uses, which provide for high density commercial, office, and residential development.
The tract is a City priority for planning and economic development. The Vancouver City Center Vision & Subarea Plan was approved in 2007, and strategically designated opportunities for future business, property and community development.
The initial phase of The Waterfront Vancouver Washington mixed-use project opened in September 2018, with the debut of the City’s new Waterfront Park, iconic Grant Street Pier, and waterfront restaurants. Other phases containing office, hotel, residential and retail-commercial uses are under construction and will open throughout the next two years. The developments are reconnecting Vancouver’s historic downtown area with the Columbia River for the first time in over a century. They are expected to bring over 200,000 new visitors to the area over the next two years.
Even with the recent spurt of development activity, Downtown, City Center and the remainder of the tract have several blocks of vacant or underdeveloped land that disconnect the areas of higher density development and provide prime opportunities for land development and business creation. As the urban center for Clark County, Downtown/City Center provides a scale and capacity that serve the needs of the larger region, while reflecting the strength of the broader city and county. The area is poised to host additional high tech jobs, housing, entertainment, arts and culture, and governmental services.