Making sure that a bustling region grows evenly can be a delicate balancing act, but Clark County communities pull off the feat with style and grace. The county is sprinkled with such a smooth distribution of residential, industrial and commercial growth thanks to a level approach that has been deliberate for the past several years.
Today, new development in each community is even more focused on maintaining a perfect mix of places for living, working and playing.
“Balance in development and growth is essential not only to the livability of our community but also the economic balance of the community,” says Ginger Metcalf, executive director of the nonprofit Identity Clark County, which works to promote regional economic health.
The county is brimming with examples of innovative approaches to development, which encompasses all aspects of life: from sipping coffee in your robe to punching the time clock. In Battle Ground, a mixed-use development called Battle Ground Center incorporates all four classes of basic development: residential, commercial, corporate and industrial. “When you have all four components, what you actually do is generate not just a destination for people, but you generate jobs,” says Carmen Villarma, president of Battle Ground Center’s marketing arm, The Management Group Inc. “You can develop a lifestyle center or a mall nearly anywhere and fill it up. We really wanted to be able to do something different.” The residential component of Battle Ground Center is called The Oaks at Battle Ground Village and combines residential and commercial space with its townhomes, with the bottom floor of each dedicated to office or retail space. The 108-acre Battle Ground Center is also home to Battle Ground Corporate Center, a 38-acre office and medical campus; Commerce East Industrial Park; and Battle Ground Village, which is a 21-acre retail center with many shops already open for business and more opening monthly, including two new restaurants. Battle Ground Village also is the home of the new Battle Ground Community Library. A few miles to the west in the town of Ridgefield, a fundamental shift is taking place in the approach to development. When the last of the town’s mills was shuttered in 1993, the longtime industrial community transitioned into more of a bedroom community for Vancouver. Today, Ridgefield, which is strategically positioned along I-5, is turning back to its job-based roots. “It’s balancing, coming back around,” says Brent Grening, executive director of the economic development board and the Port of Ridgefield. “There’s a growing population and a growing center of business.” Two years ago, the Port of Ridgefield sold 75 acres to Southwest Washington Medical Center, which plans to build a new medical campus in the community over the next 20 years. “That was very exciting because it sort of changed people’s view of what is going to happen in North [Clark] County,” Grening says. “Having a major medical complex here is much different than just the warehousing and distribution.” Downtown Vancouver continues to lead the way in balanced development. The city expects more residential growth there over the next several years, with plans for major waterfront redevelopment and an expanded convention center.