Downtown Washougal: A growing destination

Posted in - Vancouver Business Journal on April 23rd, 2013 0 Comments

By Margarita Topal, Vancouver Business Journal
Published on Jan. 25, 2013

More than a dozen companies have chosen to locate in the city’s core since July of 2011. Helping to attract them to the area is Washougal’s very own Lone Wolf Development.
“The downtown core has a lot of attractive attributes that are hard to replicate, but in this case we didn’t have to – we just had to bring them back to life,” said Adam Taylor, a spokesman for Lone Wolf. “We’re seeing a really positive response as a result.”
Despite its current vacancies, Taylor said Lone Wolf-owned Washougal Town Square is gradually receiving increased interest from business owners. In addition to that, Lone Wolf successfully recruited a pair of new businesses to Main Street: Portland-based Amnesia Brewing (opening soon) and a new restaurant called OurBar (opening this spring).
“It’s an exciting development [and] it’s also an indicator,” Taylor said of the new eateries. “I think a good mix of retailers typically follows a good mix of restaurants. We’re still actively seeking more restaurants but we’re also looking forward to the complementary trickling [of retailers] as well.”
While smaller businesses are trickling in, Papa’s Ice Cream, the longest running retail tenant in Washougal Town Square, is closing on February 9. However, Taylor said interested buyers are already lining up for the shop’s space.
“It’s a sad loss for the community and an unfortunate turn of events for us the building owners,” Taylor said. “Ivan, the owner of Papa’s has been a staple in the community for a long time. We’re seeing a tremendous amount of interest in his business…”
Looking ahead, Taylor said he is entirely optimistic that some of the vacant spaces in the area will garner interest and possibly pick up a few tenants before the end of the year.
“The number of businesses that have come in during the past few years hopefully indicates that the floodgates are about to open,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really knows the impact that Amnesia (Brewing) will have and we’re certainly optimistic about increase in foot traffic through that business opening.”
So what is bringing businesses to Washougal? According to Taylor, it’s the city’s affordability, its close-knit community feel, views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood, access to the river, pathways in downtown and a close proximity to amenities.
“People who want to come here and make things – whether it’s websites or artisan coffee or beer – we’re looking to partner with those types of entrepreneurs,” Taylor said. “It’s a great time to get on the ground floor and really continue the momentum we’re experiencing here in downtown Washougal.”
Washougal’s Interim Community Development Director Mitch Kneipp echoed Taylor’s belief that this is a time of growth for the city, and he, too, is optimistic about the direction the city is headed in.
“I think we’re skipping off the bottom of the recession and hopefully we’re seeing things moving forward,” Kneipp said. “There’s definitely a desire on a city’s part to have that momentum, and get that momentum going, and I think that you see that with Lone Wolf folks. They have that desire to get that momentum going and just pick ourselves up and get going again.”

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