The Port of Astoria Commission was action-oriented Tuesday, approving leases with Bornstein Seafoods and Da Yang Seafoods and ultimately accepting more than $900,000 in deposits, settlements and private-sector investments into its infrastructure.

The largest single chunk – $390,000 – came from a collateral swap on the former Bornstein location at the foot of Seventh Street in Astoria, which the Port Commission approved unanimously, contingent on Business Oregon agreeing that it can be applied to debt service requirements.

The building is the location for a new brewing partnership. (It was formerly known as River Barrel Brewing but it has a new, and so far unannounced name.) It was held by the Port as collateral for the more than $10 million loan used to finance the Bornstein fish plant built in the mid-2000s.

Port Interim Executive Director Mike Weston said that until 9 or 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Port and Andrew Bornstein, who originally offered $335,000, were still negotiating on a price.

“If that building falls into the water, we’ve liquidated our capital,” said Weston, recommending the commission take cash in hand that can be used to offset the Port’s debt-to-asset ratio.

Weston said the Port had conversations in Salem with the Infrastructure Finance Authority, a funding arm of Business Oregon, which he said is willing credit the amount against a $750,000 loan reserve fund the Port was supposed to build to defray any potential impacts on Bornstein’s fish factory from when Westerlund Log Handlers came in 2010.

In an audio transcript from 2007, former Port Executive Director Jack Crider said the building was worth $500,000. Commissioner Bill Hunsinger said that if Bornstein had kept the maintenance up, as was required in the collateral agreement, then the building should still be worth a similar amount.

The $500,000 figure, said Andrew Bornstein, includes his Warrenton Deep Sea building, which is worth about $170,000 and not included in the collateral swap agreement. Weston said the report from Crider said the building in Warrenton was $227,000, and that the building on Seventh Street was $500,000.

In 2007, said Bornstein, the company got an appraised value on the building of $390,000. He added that the value of his former location has been decreasing by about $5,000 a year because of a tough real estate market, and that it was assessed at $270,000 in the Clatsop County records.

“I hate buildings on pilings,” said Randy Bowe, a local real estate broker and investor in No. 10 Sixth St., which burned in December 2010. He said the real estate market took a 25- to 35-percent dive starting in 2007, adding that he and his partners are in informal negotiations with the city of Astoria to give it the property, just to be rid of it.

“Financially, I would suggest that the Port take the $390,000 and put it in the reserve account,” said Floyd Holcom, a former Port commissioner and owner of the largest waterfront building in Astoria on Pier 39.

In other news:

• Weston was unanimously appointed interim executive director; he reaffirmed his ability as director to autonomously spend up to $50,000 on in-budget items and $5,000 on out-of-budget expenses;

• The Port Commission voted unanimously to accept a $150,000 insurance settlement from the 1950s with the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The settlement relates to petroleum contamination on Port property from former oil company tenants that the Port is trying to remediate;

• Commissioners discussed and neared a memorandum of understanding to provide discounted tariffs for Westerlund for every second ship it brings in during a given month. Weston said Westerlund has brought in six ships in the last three months. Commissioners tabled the motion, wanting more definite language to ensure Westerlund can’t work around the second-ship-per-month requirement;

• The Port Commission agreed to undergo training with George Dunkel of the Special Districts Association of Oregon on board-staff relationships and how to run an efficient meeting;

• Brad Smithart, owner of Astoria Riverwalk Inn, brought up a proposal to the Port Commission wherein they’d charge him half rent during slow times of the year in exchange for him investing an equivalent amount into his building. He said he’s already put $300,000 to $400,000 into his building, but has to keep improving it to compete with other hotels.


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