Officials say new business center likely to get OK on light industrial and distribution buildings

FAIRVIEW - Turning the area between Portland International Airport and the Sandy River into a regional industrial hub is getting a boost at the Townsend Farms Business Center.

Birtcher Development of Portland wants to construct three buildings designed for warehousing and distribution on the property off Northeast Sandy Boulevard, between 223rd and 235th avenues. Each structure would be more than 100,000 square feet in size on 20.5 acres.

Jeff Townsend, CEO of Townsend Farms, said the deal could be crucial to adding to the tax base of Fairview, where areas zoned for industrial use are limited and tax revenue is declining. Fairview City Administrator Joe Gall said Birtcher's decision to build the flexible-use structures is 'very important for the city's longtime future' and could result in more jobs in the city.

Fairview planners are reviewing Birtcher's land-use and building applications, which are expected to be approved as the land is zoned for such use. Gall said Birtcher would like to break ground later this spring.

Birtcher officials are not saying who will lease the buildings, which could be a light industrial or distribution site, or a combination of both, Townsend said.

The Birtcher buildings are the latest development at Townsend Farms, which recently saw a ribbon-cutting ceremony for International's state-of-the-art complex for receiving and distributing truck parts. The 210,000-square-foot building services distributors throughout the Northwest.

Townsend Farms also boasts Thermo-King, which manufactures refrigerated trailer units and sells golf carts, and Knight Transportation, a national dry van truckload carrier. Townsend Farms itself employs about 200 full-time workers - 500 in the summer - in a 125,000-square-foot building that packages 40 million to 50 million strawberries and raspberries annually. Townsend said the packaging business will expand on its 14-acre property.

With the three new buildings, the business park will be half built-out. It has an 'excellent location' near Interstate 84, Townsend said.

Jim Edwards of Birtcher agreed, saying the property 'is well-positioned to meet the needs of industry in the next few years.'

'Industrial land with access to major multidirectional transportation routes is especially difficult to find in the region,' he stated.

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