Developer stresses iffyness of Port project
Jobs - Officials OK a deal that might bring a manufacturer to Vancouver
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The Oregonian Staff
VANCOUVER -- The Port of Vancouver is one of two U.S. locations being considered by a manufacturer for a project that could yield up to 800 jobs, but a developer Tuesday underscored the uncertainty of Vancouver's chances.
"We don't know that it's going to happen," said Roy Bennion, managing partner of Sutherland Development of Seattle.
The development company has been working on behalf of the manufacturer for about 14 months, exploring construction of a 300,000-square-foot building on land zoned light industrial. The manufacturer's identity is not known, but Port officials say the jobs would pay at least $50,000 a year with benefits.
Port commissioners Tuesday approved an agreement giving Sutherland an option to explore a lease or purchase of 30 to 60 acres near the Port for the unidentified company.
Two of the Port's three commissioners complained that the agreement, which takes effect immediately, doesn't call on the developer to pay any money for the first five months.
"The developer doesn't have any skin in the game," Commissioner Jerry Oliver said. "There's no money out of pocket at the outset."
But Oliver and Commissioner Brian Wolfe, along with Commissioner Nancy Baker, voted for the agreement anyway.
The deal calls for Sutherland to pay $5,000 a month to lease the property beginning Aug. 1. Appraisals would determine the purchase or long-term lease price. The option agreement expires May 26, 2009. It also calls for Sutherland to reveal the manufacturer's identity by Dec. 1.
Bennion did not attend Tuesday's meeting. Afterward, he said by phone that he understood commissioners' desire for more upfront money.
But, "At this point, it just doesn't justify a lot of payments because we don't know that it's going to happen."
The land is on the former Rufener Farm, a 265-acre parcel that the Port paid $5.9 million to purchase in 2004.