Paving the Way for the Future

By Kammie Sumpter in News

The land owned by the Clark College Foundation on the corner of Fourth Plain and Fort Vancouver Way finished demolition on April 3 to pave the way for temporary parking.

City permission and design approval for the lot has not yet taken place, but Vice President of Administrative Services Bob Williamson said Clark’s facilities department has been in contact with Vancouver officials.

The long-term vision for the space is still in the early stages of development, but ideas are surfacing.

“We have felt for a long time that the corner could be improved,” said Williamson. “We could create a much more welcoming and inviting entrance into the campus.”

Williamson highlighted a few possibilities:

An open-air international plaza with a lounge space and flags representing the original countries of Clark’s international students.

An expanded space for Clark’s Diversity Center.

A mixed-use development including privately-owned businesses of student interest—such as a coffee shop or pharmacy—with space for conference rooms, offices or classrooms.

All ideas are in play at this point, said Williamson. “I don’t know of any one that has ascended to the top over the others, though the international plaza has been talked about the most.”

Clark President Bob Knight is one supporter of an international plaza. “My vision is to have an international courtyard or facility where we could hold international events,” said Knight. The Fourth Plain corner is perfect for an international plaza because it’s located in a very diverse area, he said. “In the summer they have the Fourth Plain Food Festival, because it is such an ethnically diverse area of our community—the most diverse,” Knight said.

Williamson said that of all the options currently under consideration, the Foundation could move forward with the plaza the quickest.

“A multi-use development is going to require a partnership with the developer, and then you’ve got to go through city planning and permitting, and that kind of thing is going to take a long time,” said Williamson. “But a plaza, some nice landscaping and some new gateway signage, those are probably much more doable in the short term.”

However, Williamson favors a mixed-use development including private businesses, offices, conference rooms and an international plaza altogether.

Renovating the corner was first mentioned in the 2014 Facilities Master Plan.

“It really is a plan that looks long-term for the college and begins to identify facility development opportunities: new buildings, remodeling existing buildings, improvements to grounds, those kind of things,” said Williamson.

Though the goal was acknowledged in the Master Plan, no details were specified other than tearing down the buildings and working with the community.

The buildings previously on the land were occupied by private businesses, such as a comic book store and a computer repair shop. “Just small mom and pop sized businesses,” said Williamson. Tenants were notified of the demolition in 2014 and have since relocated.

Williamson said that it will be a few years before they break ground and a total of four to five years until completion.

“It’s really been more visionary and conceptual at this point.”


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