For years, St. Helens officials have had their eyes on Boise Cascade’s prime waterfront property.

However, when wood products manufacturer first announced in August the land housing its shuttered veneer plant was going up for sale, Mayor Randy Peterson said the city was not in a financial position to purchase it KATIE WILSON - In the coming months, Boise Cascade plans to destroy the remaining buildings of its shuttered veneer plant in St. Helens (above).

That doesn’t mean the city has given up its interest.

“It’s fair to say the city is very interested in future development there,” said St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh.

Boise Cascade is asking $3 million for the property, according to John Sahlberg, senior vice president of human resources with the company.

The development of the historic Olde Towne area and its undeveloped waterfront have long figured in a number of city plans. In 2009, the city passed an overlay zone for commercial and residential use at the 17-acre industrial Boise property.

The city formed a Waterfront Development Plan Update Committee around the same time. In a “Waterfront Development Prioritization Plan” completed in 2010, the committee had a stated theme of creating a “living riverfront,” identifying different ways the public could access and use the waterfront.

While the Boise property was never specifically named in the plan, the Waterfront Redevelopment Overlay District was discussed and could apply to that property, according to Jacob Graichen, city planner for St. Helens. One priority listed in the plan discusses the potential of developing a new waterfront park near Plymouth Street, in the general vicinity of the Boise property.

The site has also been of interest to the Maritime Heritage Coalition, which put on the Maritime Heritage Festival this year at the nearby St. Helens Marina.

Peterson said the coalition, led by St. Helens Tourism Director Chris Finks, has been looking for a place to establish a heritage center.

“People identify St. Helens with this area,” said Walsh about the waterfront. “It’s of high interest (to the city).”

Sahlberg said he has not been approached by the city of St. Helens since the Boise property was put up for sale.

“But we are staying contact with them in case they do,” he said.

This story has been altered from an earlier version to correct an editing error. Boise Cascade is a wood products manufacturer, not a pulp and paper company.

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