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Troutdale site could be used for postal service center

With decades of history between the Portland Development Commission and the United States Postal Service about relocating its regional distribution center out of the Pearl District, it’s not surprising the two groups are talking about possible alternative locations.

What may come as a surprise to East Multnomah County residents is that Troutdale might be a contender for the federal office.

Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust brought up the issue during the most recent council meeting Aug. 25, noting he’s talked with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales about possibly relocating the distribution center to the Port of Portland-owned Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park.

“It’s an interesting question,” Daoust said.

Locating a large center to the TRIP property, located next to Troutdale Airport on Northwest Frontage Road, isn’t itself an issue. What could be, however, is the fact that as a federal agency, the postal service would not pay property taxes on the valuable land it would occupy.

“There has to be something in it for Troutdale,” Daoust noted.

While both the U.S. Post Office and Port of Portland declined to comment on this possibility, Shawn Uhlman, Public Affairs Manager with the Portland Development Commission, offered some insight.

“The PDC has been working with USPS for quite some time on their central facility in downtown Northwest Portland,” Uhlman said. “It’s long been identified as a site for tremendous redevelopment potential.”

The facility currently occupies 14 acres in Northwest Portland’s Pearl District at a site that has been eyed for a baseball park, a corporate campus or affordable housing. But the Portland Development Commission finally made some headway in April with the postal service.

“What happened in April, the (Multnomah County) board authorized the PDC to basically allocate funds in the amount of $500,000 to enter into exclusive negotiations with USPS,” Uhlman said. “(That is) with the goal that we reach a respectable agreement where the PDC could acquire that site for redevelopment purposes.”

Although no specifics can be discussed, or have been agreed upon, Uhlman said this is the most progress the PDC has seen in years.

“It is encouraging, and we will see how it goes,” he said.

The money allocated to the postal service is being used for a preliminary design for a replacement facility.

“Ideally, they would have a firm create designs for a new facility for them that could go on any property,” he said.

But the designs and negotiations for purchase are slow-going.

“The pace I say is pretty deliberate. They want to make sure it’s a site that suits their needs,” Uhlman said. “We want to make sure that process is moving at an appropriate pace too.”

For now, all Uhlman could only confirm there are possible sites throughout the Portland metro area.

“I know for certain there are sites in the city of Portland and sites outside the city of Portland,” he said.

The PDC intends to issue an update to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners at a September meeting, where more details might be revealed.

“We’re at a place where all the parties are still at the table and working toward a resolution,” he added. “It’s encouraging and cause for hope.”

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