Troutdale council votes to move forward in deal to sell city's urban renewal property

A plan by Troutdale’s Junki Yoshida to purchase and develop property adjacent to the Sandy River has moved one giant step closer to reality.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, Aug. 26, the Troutdale City Council approved resolutions that set terms for the sale of the city’s former sewage plant and 12 acres of city property, located in the urban renewal district, to Eastwind Development.

For the past decade, the city, state agencies and Eastwind, a subsidiary of the Yoshida Group, have been working together to clean up the 20-acre brownfield, which includes 8-acres of rundown industrial property owned by Eastwind.

Voters passed the city’s first and only urban renewal district in 2006 with the intention of restoring and improving the old industrial site located behind the outlet mall and adjacent to the Sandy River, between Interstate 84 to the north and downtown Troutdale to the south.

In May, the city authorized an “exclusive negotiating agreement” with Eastwind to negotiate selling the city’s portion of the property to Eastwind, so developers may continue with their plan to develop the entire site into a luxury hotel complex, restaurant, spa and recreation area.

After nearly 10 years of work including environmental studies on the property and continued clean-up, Mayor Doug Daoust said, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are finally getting to the exciting point of seeing the development of the urban renewal area,” he said.

Developers and the council have expressed an urgency to finish clean-up and prepare the property for development before the window for the urban renewal district closes in 2016.

“This is an acid test for our experiment in land use,” said Matt Wand, a Troutdale attorney recently hired by the Yoshida Group, who at the meeting presented Eastwind’s plan for developing the waterfront, which includes public access to nature trails and a bike path that will connect to the 40-mile loop.

“If we can’t get this done, that is all the evidence we need that our land-use system is a failure,” Wand said.

The resolutions the council voted on Tuesday did not transact the sale of the city’s property, but rather set the terms and conditions for sale. The council intends to vote on the actual sale in the near future after the sewer plant and property is appraised and the city and Eastwind can agree on a price and other conditions.

The terms also ensure Eastwind’s plan to remove the sheep carcass pit from its property in October.

Other key terms included a formula for a fair re-use value of the city’s former sewer plant, a fair appraisal process and agreed upon deductions of the appraised value.

If the city and Eastwind do not agree on the sale, the city has the option to terminate the proposal, hire a third or fourth independent appraiser, or negotiate further with Eastwind, said Doug MacCourt, the city’s urban renewal agency attorney.

Before voting yes on both resolutions presented before council (one was for the Urban Renewal Agency and the other for City Council), Councilor Rich Allen wanted to ensure a couple of things.

“One of the most important aspects to our people is does this deal ensure we will have public access from north to south along the Sandy River waterfront and the 40-mile loop?” Allen said.

MacCourt said yes, the state owns the river bed and banks of the Sandy River and federal law ensures the protection and improvement of those areas.

In planning efforts, MacCourt said, “It is Eastwind and the city’s intent that the property remain open to the public. We will ensure this intent statement makes its way into terms that includes public access. Those will become terms in the ‘PSA’ or purchase and sale agreement,” he said.

City Manager Craig Ward went further to explain that the urban renewal area plan has policies that assure public plazas and spaces in the area funded for development.

Allen, satisfied with the answer, said, “Quite frankly, I am looking forward to the property being developed.”

Councilor David Ripma said he also was at first worried the terms did not spell out enough about the public access, but after listening to MacCourt and Ward’s assurances, he said he also was satisfied that “all parties intend to have public access.”

Eastwind and the city, however, are still trying to figure out an access road to the future development. One option would require building a road through the outlet mall, owned by Simon Property Group.

During public comment, downtown business owner Claude Cruz stepped before Council and said he is a big supporter of the project.

However, he said, “A peaceful co-existence with downtown and the development are essential. Somehow we have to have a way of addressing how to feed traffic between those areas. Other than that, I think it’s a wonderful project,” he said.

Wand, who was representing Eastwind along with project manager Ron Garzini, agreed the access issue must be resolved. He said Eastwind plans to move forward, write a big check to the city and take the risk to solve the issue.

After the meeting, Mayor Daoust told the Outlook he was pretty confident there wouldn’t be any hurdles regarding the sale of the city’s property to Eastwind.

“We built the formula of what the sale agreement is going to be and now all we have to do is plug in the numbers,” he said. Those numbers will be discussed and the public will have the opportunity to see the value in that property, Daoust said.

The mayor called Eastwind and the Yoshida Group “a trustworthy partner,” and a partner “with the same intentions for development that the city has.”

“When you have a city and developer sharing the same vision, that’s a very positive thing,” Daoust said.

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