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City plan tees up golf courses for industries

State industrial land mandates force Portland to 'scrounge' sites


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jesse Bristow, left, and his uncle Joel Bristow finish up a hole at Broadmoor Golf Course in Northeast Portland. They say the course is more accessible than higher-priced country clubs in the area. Portland planners are looking to greens spaces — golf course greens, that is — to provide new land for industry.

The city is under pressure to rezone large chunks of land for industrial use when it submits its updated comprehensive land-use plan to state regulators next year. To help meet that state mandate, city planners are working on a proposal that ultimately could rezone as many as four golf courses due south of the Columbia River: Colwood National Golf Club, Broadmoor Golf Course, Riverside Golf and Country Club and Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

“There’s been declining revenues for a lot of these golf courses,” says Eric Engstrom, principal planner for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

And, with demand for golf courses expected to decline more in coming years, analysts figure golf course owners might see a different kind of green in their future: large sums of money when their property is rezoned and sold for industrial use.

Any rezoning would have to be similar to the pending deal setting aside 48 acres of the Colwood golf course for industry while reserving the rest for open space and a potential city park, Engstrom says. “The public would have to get something out of it” in each case, he says.

There’s also a big question about whether the privately owned golf courses and country clubs would want to shut down and sell their land.

The family that owns Broadmoor has an “open mind” about the idea, says Scott Krieger, general manager and head PGA pro. “Anything’s for sale” if the price is right, he says.

“Business has dropped off dramatically, especially the last four years,” says Krieger, whose mother and five aunts developed Broadmoor on a family dairy farm in 1931. Baby boomers are fond of golf, but there appears to be less demand from the next generation, he says.

Jesse Bristow, who was golfing at Broadmoor on Friday with his uncle Joel Bristow, says it would be a major disappointment to see it closed for golfing.

“I play here maybe once a week,” Jesse Bristow says. “This is my favorite course in the area.”

The Bristows paid $14 each for a round of nine holes — much more affordable, they say, than the private country clubs in Clark County, where they live.

Country clubs may differ

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The family that owns Broadmoor Golf Course, who previously sold their driving range for industrial users, would be open to selling the golf course if they fetched the right price. But Broadmoor is open to every player, while Riverside and Columbia Edgewater are private country clubs.

“They’re not going to be on board at all” to sell off their land, Krieger predicts, noting that both have memberships that include powerful business people, lawyers, etc.

Riverside and Columbia Edgewater managers did not return phone calls seeking comments about the issue.

Corky Collier, executive director of the Columbia Corridor Association, likes the proposal being worked up by city planners. It would make it easier for the golf courses to convert and sell their land in the future, Collier says. However, he, too, is skeptical the two private country clubs will be interested.

Rezoning of golf courses also is likely to provoke sharp opposition from influential environmental groups like the Audubon Society of Portland.

“Audubon in general opposes the conversion of open space,” says Bob Sallinger, conservation director.

The city’s effort shows how difficult it is to meet the state mandate to supply more and more industrial lands, Sallinger says, at a time when the city is largely built out and its boundaries butt up against suburbs. Now the city is “scrounging for these last little bits” of industrial land, he says.

The issue surfaced at last Thursday’s City Council work session on a rezoning and annexation proposal for west Hayden Island. The Port of Portland hopes to develop marine trade terminals on about 300 acres of the island.

What happens, wondered city Commissioner Steve Novick, if the city can’t come up with the new industrial-zoned acreage required by the state?

“Does Metro throw us in land-use jail?” Novick asked, half joking.

Stiff mandate

Portland falls short of state land-use mandates by roughly 630 acres of land zoned for industrial use. The mandates are designed to assure that each city can accommodate new industrial jobs.

The Planning Bureau appointed the Industrial Land/Watershed Health Working Group, which has been at work for nearly a year to devise a proposal for meeting the state targets. The group’s work still isn’t complete, but it has a detailed proposal that suggests the goal actually will be more like 720 acres. That’s because city planners now calculate that some 94 acres of currently zoned industrial land along the Willamette and Columbia rivers might be rezoned or unavailable due to environmental concerns or the desire for greenways.

To put that 720 acres into perspective, that’s enough land to fit the Nike corporate campus, Mount Tabor and Washington parks and the Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College campuses.

The city is assuming that it will make up much of the shortfall by rezoning about 300 acres of west Hayden Island, Engstrom says. That will require three votes on the Portland City Council to approve the pending annexation and zone change proposal, which is still not assured.

The next-biggest chunk of new industrial lands, some 185 acres, would come from rezoning golf courses. Of that, 48 acres would come from Colwood, and the rest from other golf courses. All that land wouldn’t have to be available for new industrial jobs until 2035, so there’s plenty of time to see if the demand for golf continues to drop.

The third-biggest chunk of new industrial lands would come from reusing old contaminated sites known as brownfields. The city analysis calls for getting about 128 acres of the current 500-plus acres of brownfields cleaned up and put back into industrial use, Engstrom says. “There is land on the harbor that’s vacant, but it’s so contaminated and expensive to clean up that it can’t be used effectively,” he says. The work group proposes a new state tax incentive to help cover those costs.

City planners also hope that adding new roads and other access could enable greater use of existing industrial lands, such as those occupied by the Port of Portland, Gunderson and Schnitzer Steel, among others, Engstrom says. That wouldn’t involve rezoning, but it could provide the equivalent in new industrial jobs on current acreage.

It’s unclear how the city meets its industrial land targets without the west Hayden Island or golf course conversions, which together account for about 485 acres under the current scenario.

If Portland can’t make available the new industrial acreage, that might lead to expanding the urban growth boundary, Engstrom says. Ultimately, that means seeing even more family-wage jobs go to suburbs like Hillsboro instead of Portland.