Vancouver Housing Authority and its partners recently celebrated the start of construction on Fourth Plain Community Commons in Vancouver, Wash. The project will anchor the area, known as Vancouver’s International Business District, which is home to the city’s most diverse and lowest income neighborhoods.
Opening in 2023, the mixed-use project features 106 workforce housing units on the upper floors and a flexible ground floor space. It’s located along a major thoroughfare and bus rapid transit corridor, Fourth Plain Boulevard. VHA will own and operate the apartments while the City of Vancouver will develop the ground space and work with community organizations to operate it.
The city and housing authority are collaborating with Salazar Architect Inc. and Walsh Construction Co. to bring the project to life. The team hosted open houses, surveys, workshops and design meetings (which switched to remote interviews and focus groups after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic) to determine what residents and businesses need.
“That is how it evolved over time,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said at the project’s groundbreaking ceremony. “It wasn’t the city’s plan. It wasn’t just Vancouver housing authority’s plan. It was this community’s plan.”
Fourth Plain Community Commons will have over 10,000 square feet of shared office space and event space, along with a commercial kitchen incubator to launch and support food-based businesses. Additionally, a 9,000-square-foot outdoor plaza will host festivals and events including a farmers market. Fourth Plain Community Commons is designed to allow murals to cover much of the façade, contributing to the area’s mural arts tradition.
The aim is to improve the corridor’s safety, create a place where people can gather and access services, strengthen small businesses and increase the supply of affordable housing—a critical need in Vancouver. It’s part of Fourth Plain Forward, an initiative to support residents, enhance the area and boost local businesses.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development expressed its support for the project and others like it.
“Your partners at HUD here in the region, your partners across the Biden administration stand ready to bring federal resources to the table to partner with you to make creative moves just like this to open doors for more families throughout our region,” said Margaret Salazar, HUD’s Region 10 administrator.