WARRENTON — Clatsop County is moving forward to develop the North Coast Business Park.
Through Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm, the county has issued a request for proposals, asking developers to pitch a concept plan for 130 acres of the site located near Costco and close to U.S. Highway 101.
Developers have until March 17 to respond.
In the document, the county said it is seeking general industrial development, including light, heavy and airport-related industrial activities.
While the county has experienced steady population growth and significant residential development, it “still lacks key industrial services and jobs,” the document said.
The county hopes a public-private partnership can enhance livability through economic development and job creation.
“With approximately 500 additional households slated to be built over the next five years, the NCBP is a prime industrial location within the county that can continue to support growth on the North Oregon Coast with easy access to the highway,” the document said.
The property has been a source of frustration for years as the county has grappled with what to do with the land. There have even been discussions around disposing of the property.
When the county gained ownership of the site in 1991, the goal was to sell a portion of the land and use the proceeds for infrastructure improvements on the rest.
But over the years, it has sat empty.
A development feasibility report, completed by a Portland consulting firm last year, detailed development constraints, including city water, pump station and wastewater limitations and substantial wetlands.
A data center and technology incubator was the last significant project proposed for the business park in 2018, but a purchase agreement fell apart in 2019 after months of extensions.
More recently, the property was identified as a potential site to relocate the county’s public works facility, which the county ultimately decided against. The county has said it has a desire to get the property back on the tax rolls.
“During all of that, we continued to look at our options as far as marketing it for development,” Assistant County Manager Monica Steele said. “That is ultimately what’s going to be best for the taxing district.”
Columbia Memorial Hospital and Fort George Brewery own portions of the property on the south side of Ensign Lane.
The property is part of the Clatsop Enterprise Zone, which is administered by the county, Astoria, Warrenton and the Port of Astoria.
The enterprise zone offers companies tax breaks on new investments in return for improving property and creating new jobs that pay at least 130% of the average county wage.
Fort George Brewery, the first company to participate, was approved in 2020 for an estimated $617,000 in tax relief over 15 years. The company promised to invest at least $12.5 million in its development of the former Astoria Warehousing campus in Uniontown and create at least 35 jobs.
Buoy Beer and Pilot House Distilling’s parent company, River Barrel Brewing Inc., joined in 2021, along with fishmeal company Scoular.
River Barrel promised to invest $8 million in an expansion of its waterfront campus in Astoria, and Scoular planned to spend $10 million on a new fishmeal plant near the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton.