The Port of Vancouver USA and the Port of Portland both recently entered into property acquisition deals - to restore under-utilized industrial land to productive use.
In Vancouver, the port recently reached purchase and sale agreements with Alcoa Aluminum and Evergreen Aluminum LLC to buy the properties that formerly hosted aluminum smelters and extrusion facilities. This will create a significant number of industrial jobs for our community. The Port of Vancouver paid a combined $48 million for the two properties.
The Port of Portland recently completed its purchase of the Reynolds Aluminum property in Troutdale, Ore., paying a total of $17.25 million to create the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park.
A simple comparison of the properties shows that while increased economic value is the purpose, the transactions differ significantly.
The properties that the Port of Vancouver has agreed to purchase - and it should be clear that the sales have not yet closed and the port does have escape clauses in both agreements - are currently being cleaned to industrial standards set by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
- The properties do have pollution, but are being cleaned, at no cost to the taxpayers, by the sellers.
- The property has both waterfront access and a marine terminal-type dock on it, which provides the port with instant infrastructure that will help us attract customers to facilities that are ready for them very quickly.
The property has rail access in place, and both properties have good surface transportation access, not to mention direct access to I-5 and one of the most critical rail junctions on the West Coast.
Both properties also have good, and interconnected, utility infrastructure in place.
- Port of Vancouver plans to lease the property to tenants who provide a large number of living-wage jobs to the community, and who rely heavily on rail for distribution of cargo into and out of the port, limiting the number of trucks used through our community.
- The properties are already zoned for heavy industrial use, which suits the port.
In this remediation, Alcoa and Evergreen are paying for the cleanup and capping measures on both parcels. The port will bear the cost of environmental monitoring into the future, but that's normal for any port property that has been cleaned up.
By contrast, at the Troutdale Reynolds property, the Port of Portland will need to invest heavily to make the property usable, and half of the land is unlikely to ever be developed. Here's a little more information about the Troutdale Reynolds property as it currently stands:
Two different properties, two different deals, and two different outcomes for their communities.
- No dock. No waterfront access. No rail access.
- Poor surface transportation access.
- Inadequate access to utilities, stormwater installation costs are high and there is a need to install significant amounts of deep utility infrastructure through contaminated areas.
Port of Portland is assuming some of the costs of the environmental cleanup (pump and treat systems).
- Of the total 700 acres, only 350 are developable.
150 acres of the 350 developable acreage will require extensive wetland mitigation and extensive fill to make the property developable. There is substantial risk that permitting will slow later phases of the Port of Portland project.
- The Port of Portland deal with Reynolds was agreed upon in 2004, and no one anticipated the amount of time it would take to close the sale.
- The property will be used to develop an industrial park, not provide for growth in maritime cargo.
Larry Paulson is executive director of the Port of Vancouver USA.
Land Acquisition Suits Vancouver Port
Portland Business Journal, January 13, 2008
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