Christmas Ships are Back!

Well the annual parade of Christmas ships has returned again for the 64th year. Here in the ‘Couv’ we have additional watching opportunities with the two new waterfront restaurants. You can still stake out your favorite spot at Beaches, McMenemins, Who Song and Larry’s, Joes Crab Shack, or Warehouse 23, but both Wildfin and Twigs offer excellent views as well. Those willing to brave the winter chill can watch from the perch of our brand new Grant Street Pier or anywhere along the fabulous waterfront park.

Here is a link to the schedule for the Columbia River this year. This is a volunteer program and the skippers of these private yachts participate at their own expense. There is an opportunity to donate to the organization that runs the event which in itself has many notable costs.

There are two fleets of ships one that runs the Willamette River and the other the Columbia. On several nights to two fleets combines for an extra big parade, the schedule at details it all.

The Christmas Ships has been a tradition for 64 years and it is considered to be the longest running Christmas Ship parade in the USA. Be sure to catch the fleet before the season is over on the 20th of December.

Meanwhile downtown; Hurley Development got the green light on their office condo building on Columbia at 3rd Street. That 6 story building is going up on a tiny triangle-shaped lot. Seems we might have a modern-day adaptation of a flatiron building going up next year in the ‘Couv’. We shall see.

Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.



East side or West side?

How about a little break from the us versus them cross river rivalry and get a little cross town action going? Vancouver has more of an east-west divide than a north-south. The west side is served by Vancouver Schools, the east side by Evergreen Schools. The west side is the older “original” Vancouver the east side was developed much later and predominately after I-205 was built in the 1980s.

Which side is better? Ha, trick question, they’re both awesome! Generally the west side is a bit older than the east side.

Much of the original west end is on a classic 4 point grid with tree-lined streets and homes that are at least 80 years old. The greater Vancouver area extends north all the way to Felida, Salmon Creek, and Mount Vista offering a more suburban feel.

The east side is a more modern suburban style layout that over the years has stretched out towards and over previous “towns” like Barberton, Orchards, Five Corners, Sifton, etc. These are the culdesac clad post war American “utopia” neighborhoods.

Neither side is better, it is a bit of a baseball versus football kind of thing. To each his own.

The east side is a bit more monothematic but offers wider streets, and in general a less congested feeling. The east side lacks a true north-south freeway as I-205 makes a sharp bend to the west north of SR-500. That means residents in the Sifton area have to travel down NE 162nd Avenue for about 5-6 miles to get to the major east side commercial district at Mill Plain and 164th. Of course the east side is much closer to the Cascade foothills and so the outdoorsy types and those who like to utilize the forests for recreation are much closer to the “action”.

The west side has eclectic neighborhoods and the period styles are very evident as one moves from a Victorian era neighborhood, to a pre-war Craftsman neighborhood, to a World War II neighborhood and even post-war. Remnants of America’s local neighborhood “main street” vibe is well retained on the west side. St. Johns, Hazel Dell, Uptown, Rose Village, etc. West side residents are right in the thick of Vancouver’s ambitious downtown and waterfront expansion.

The east-west divide can be a bit hard to quantify. Is I-205 the line? What about the county street grid? Nope, none of those. Nearest I can tell it would have to be Andresan. Hear me out. The boundary between Evergreen Schools and Vancouver Schools is too zig-zaggy but Andresan is a pretty close mark to it and it make a pretty clean north-south line dividing two halves and continuing north across I-205 as NE 72nd Avenue. The quad grid system for the county runs a bit too close to Main Street and Hazel Dell Avenue both of which are well west of center. Clark County has about 3/4 of its land in the NE quadrant so it isn’t a geographically uniform quadrant system. In fact the “southwest” quadrant is effectively underwater with the west downtown and east port areas about the only area included but I don’t believe there are any streets with a “SW” direction in Vancouver.

Here in the “Original” Vancouver, one can choose whatever style they like. The Vancouver UGB has some 90 square miles offering the full run from urban high-rise to big country-style lots with a sprawling ranch home. Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find it here.


Holidays are Here and Some new Downtown Residents Too

Another holiday season has begun. City leaders kicked it off with the ceremonial tree lighting at Esther Short Park on Friday. I do hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving and remember we should all be thankful we get to live right here in America’s Vancouver.

Ah the holidays, so bright and joyful yet so dark and gloomy. December 25th falls just 3-4 days after the Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. But the holiday festivities and lights turn the short day blues into a wonderful long night of lights twinkling all around.

In the next few days the first new residents to the fabulous waterfront will take possession of their brand new shiny apartment at Rediviva. That may feel like an early Christmas as they soak up the views from the first Residential building to open on the Waterfront. There are many more residential projects underway.

December will also mark the opening of the Murdock Office building. I know that a pair of title companies will be leasing space in the building and as a RealtorĀ®, I will no doubt find myself in there soon.

My bubbly enthusiasm continues for our new waterfront and I hope the city leaders can continue to capitalize on a strong national economy and bring more jobs home the ‘Couv’. I have launched a new web space and blog that focuses on our rising urbanism movement. Urban Living in the ‘Couv’ went live late last week and features content centered around residential living and real estate in Downtown, Waterfront, Uptown, and a few other areas around town. I hope you enjoy it.

OK my traditional first week after Thanksgiving weather topic is that I can’t help but ponder about our chances of a White Christmas. Historically Vancouver rarely gets snowfall on Christmas since we only get a few days of snow each year, the odds tend to be stacked against us. Since I started keeping records at my location in NE Vancouver in 2002, I have had precisely two Christmases in which more than an inch of snow was on the ground and falling. That was 2008, and again last Christmas. Two White Christmas events in 16 years doesn’t work out to the best odds, now does it? That’s a 1 in 8 shot. According to local weather records the next one back was 1998, so that works out to 3 in 20 which is just a tad better than 1 in 7. But back to back White Christmas events? I don’t think that has actually ever happened here. Well you know the old saying, “there’s a first time for everything.”

We shall see, Ah the ‘Couv’ Life; with worries like this, it is good.