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Port approves purchase of 222 acres in Gresham

It's the first step toward recruitment of industry and job creation

Port of Portland commissioners unanimously voted to buy 222 acres of industrial land in Gresham for a future business park.

The $26.5 million deal approved Wednesday, Oct. 12, includes a 10-year agreement with the city of Gresham to jointly market the property to traded sector companies, recruit industries and get it ready for potential industrial clients.

Gresham city councilors are scheduled to approve the agreement at its Tuesday, Oct. 18, meeting.

The property owned by LSI Logic Corp. surrounds ON Semiconductor's campus between Northeast Glisan Street to the north, Southeast Stark Street to the south, and between 223rd Avenue and 242nd Drive to the west and east. It is close to the Troutdale and Portland International airports as well as Interstate 84.

It's also the only site in the region consisting of more than 100 acres that's zoned and ready for development.

'Acquisition was a priority for the port due to its unique size, shove-ready status and potential to attract strategic investment and significant job creation,' said Bill Wyatt, the Port's executive director.

When complete, the business park will generate an estimated 2,768 direct jobs - plus thousands of indirect jobs in the surrounding community. Altogether, full development of the property would mean nearly 5,000 new jobs in Gresham, according to the port's economic impact model.

The port's plan call for creating nine lots of various sizes, with an emphasis on large industrial lots, on 172 developable acres. Such lots would then be sold to trade-sector companies that Gresham and the port want to attract. The rest of the property is zoned commercial, mixed use and residential.

Plans for a Gresham business park echo a similar port endeavor in Troutdale, where in 2004 it purchased a 700-acre site formerly home to the Reynolds aluminum plant.

That property is home to a 78-acre, 800-employee FedEx regional distribution hub. In fact, port officials recently announced the start of the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park's second phase of construction. When complete, the three-phase development is expected to produce an estimated 3,500 new jobs, $141 million in personal income and $46 million in local and state taxes.

Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said the property acquisition - for what he called a strategic site - is great news for East Multnomah County.

'This property has been actively marketed for years, but without a local owner possessing expertise in industrial development, its potential for employment and economic development has remained unrealized,' Bemis said.

LSI purchased the land in the mid-1990s and built a 500,000-square-foot plant. The chipmaker also provided much of the infrastructure for its 300-acre campus because it plans to build as many as five more fabrication plants.

Instead, in 2006 it sold the initial plant and 83 acres to ON Semiconductor, leaving vacant more than 200 acres of undeveloped land zoned for general industrial use.

Sester Farms Inc. leases about 178 acres of the land for its family-run ornamental tree farm. A one-year lease for 77 acres will be terminated when the sale is final, but another lease for the other 101 acres doesn't expire until January 2013.

The port also owns the Rivergate Industrial District and an industrial park on Swan Island in North Portland, in addition to four marine terminals and three airports, including the Troutdale Airport.