(This article was originally published in The Columbian.)
Around downtown Vancouver and Battle Ground, there is ample evidence of the impact Prestige Development has had; from local cinemas to business parks and living centers, their projects continue to give back to the community.
Elie Kassab and the Beginning of Vancouver’s Revitalization
In 1995, after the four-plex cinema at Jantzen Beach was decommissioned, Kassab realized there was a new gap in the market. As a result, Prestige Development created a 12-plex, 2,200 seat cinema at the end of 8th Street in 1998, the first new building in downtown Vancouver in many years. Still in operation, Kassab said the City Center 12 Cinema project helped spark a revitalization of downtown Vancouver.
Several years later, the Lewis & Clark Plaza was developed by Prestige. This 46-unit residential building on Broadway was built as part of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, providing affordable and convenient housing for low-income senior residents in downtown Vancouver.
One of the hallmarks of Kassab’s endeavors is arts and aesthetics featured along with functionality; Kassab incorporated a street-level interpretive center and art gallery featuring sculptures from renowned local artist Jim Demetro of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea in time for the 200th Anniversary of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
A Leader in the Community
While helping to build needed attractions and accommodations in Vancouver, Kassab has been a great contributor to the city as a whole. He served on the board of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce for seven terms, and has been on the board for Identity Clark County since 1998.
Kassab is also on the board of the Quinn Driscoll Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for Sudden Cardiac Arrest of young high school athletes. He also actively raises funds to help feed the Syrian children refugees in Lebanon, a cause close to his heart.
Our Heroes Place: Prestige Development’s Newest Venture
In 2019, Downtown Vancouver will feature more apartments, condominiums and retail shops while honoring two longtime community leaders and philanthropists, Ed and Dollie Lynch. Our Heroes Place will feature 25 market-rate apartments and 24 homes conveniently near the I-5 Mill Plain interchange.
Of the Lynches, Kassab says “Our Heroes Place will serve as a constant reminder to downtown Vancouver Guests and future residents of our appreciation for Ed and Dollie Lynch who both worked tirelessly to make our community a better place to live, work, learn and play.”
The project qualified for 8 years of tax abatement to help attract residential capacity to downtown Vancouver. Prestige Development also developed nearby Prestige Plaza Apartments, which features 100 market rate residential apartments and retail studios.
Meeting the Needs of a Burgeoning City
When queried about what, from a development perspective, Southwestern Washington needs most, Kassab answered that a few more companies need to move their headquarters here, and the community as a whole “needs to really pay attention to small businesses and help them survive.”