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Boise Cascade hopes to sell prime waterfront property

by: KATIE WILSON - St. Helens veneer plant shut its doors in 2008, causing its 36 workers to lose their jobs. Now the company is looking to sell off its waterfront property, appraised at $3 million.Nearly four years after the Boise Cascade veneer plant in St. Helens shut its doors and 36 employees lost their jobs, the waterfront property is going up for sale.

The city of St. Helens has had its eyes on the 17-acre property for a long time, seeing it as a way to expand Olde Towne’s commercial and residential options. But with an appraised value of $3 million, the property is well beyond the city’s price range, said St. Helens Mayor Randy Peterson.

Officials have done what they can to pave the way for other buyers, however.

Peterson said the land is zoned industrial but the city passed an overlay zone for commercial/residential use in 2009, giving potential buyers the option to develop the land in a several different ways.

The Maritime Heritage Coalition, which puts on the annual Maritime Heritage Festival, has been looking for a place to establish a heritage center, Peterson said. The Boise property would be ideal in many ways.

The Maritime Heritage Coalition founder is Chris Finks, who was hired as St. Helens’ tourism director last September.

“It’s a nice piece of property for someone who wants river access,” said John Sahlberg, senior vice president of human resources with Boise Cascade.

Sahlberg said the company is still working through the details of the listing agreement, but expects the property to be listed any day now.

He said that in the years since the plant has been closed there have been several inquiries about the property, none of them very serious. Still, Sahlberg is confident Boise will not have the property on its hands for long.

“The question is always the price,” he said. “(Boise is) not in a hurry.”

The company is in the process of negotiating the removal of a building on the property.

A Boise spokesperson in 2008 said the plant closure resulted from low demand for the product and St. Helens’ physical distance from other necessary Boise Cascade facilities.