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Port launches North Chenoweth

THE PORT OF THE DALLES celebrated groundbreaking on its future North Chenoweth industrial subdivision with festivities Jan. 31. Pictured throwing dirt with golden shovels are, left to right, Andrea Klaas, Port of The Dalles executive director;  Bob McFadden, board president;  Greg Weast, board vice president;  Kristi McCavic, board treasurer;  Mike Courtney, board member;  David Griffith board secretary; Michael Held, Port of The Dalles development specialist and Erik Herr, of Crestline Construction.

THE PORT OF THE DALLES celebrated groundbreaking on its future North Chenoweth industrial subdivision with festivities Jan. 31. Pictured throwing dirt with golden shovels are, left to right, Andrea Klaas, Port of The Dalles executive director; Bob McFadden, board president; Greg Weast, board vice president; Kristi McCavic, board treasurer; Mike Courtney, board member; David Griffith board secretary; Michael Held, Port of The Dalles development specialist and Erik Herr, of Crestline Construction. Photo by Mark Gibson.

The Port of The Dalles celebrated groundbreaking Friday on the first phase of the future North Chenoweth industrial subdivision on the former Mt. Fir chip mill site.

“Yes, it is a time of celebration,” said Bob McFadden, president of the port board of directors. “Thirty years ago some very smart people started talking about making a difference out there. Twenty-nine years ago, the district passed the bond. That bond created over $2 billion of infrastructure now on the land and over 1,000 jobs with 53 different companies. We’re taking the next step and my one hope is 30 years from now people will look back and be able to say, ‘Gosh, we did a good thing.’”

Port staff, directors and a representative of the general contractor on the project, Crestline Construction, took up the golden shovels to mark the occasion. The project was designed by Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc.

Ultimately, the site will have 26 shovel-ready building sites with full infrastructure. The first phase will leave the last seven sites for later construction, said Michael Held, port development specialist. All the sites will be state-certified as ready to build.

“The seven lots as you enter into the development are going to be graded at a later date, in the second phase of the project,” Held said. The idea is that the sale of first-phase lots will help fund second-phase construction.

The sites will range in size between one and three acres.

“But we can easily consolidate lots to be able to bring in large-sized businesses, if needed,” said Andrea Klaas, port executive director. “Otherwise, it will be similar to what you see on the port area now.”

Preparation to develop the site was a complex process, requiring a number of geological and technical surveys. The site contains a significant amount of hard basalt rock as well as areas where sawdust from the mill had been used as fill. That material smoldered for more than a year after a wildfire swept through the area a few years ago.

“The goal is to remove all the flammable material as part of the construction,” Held said.

Filling the subdivision will be the next port challenge.

“It will be opportunity driven,” McFadden said, “but we are going to be targeting certain industries.”

“We have had four businesses make inquiries [about the building sites],” Klaas added. “We have a letter of intent from one business and three others are in discussion.”

She described them as a mix of local, regional and “other” businesses.

“These first four just really have come about from people driving by the sign at the end of River Trail Way and River Road,” Klaas said. “[Port Commissioner] David Griffith encouraged us to put it up. It was good marketing money invested.”

The port will be teaming up for marketing with another industrial project now under development at the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport.

“Michael and I have started conversations with representatives from their management team and we will be co-marketing each other’s property and hopefully will come up with a regional marketing campaign.”

The port also hopes to leverage other marketing campaigns already under way, including a State of Oregon food processing recruitment campaign.

“I have also joined the Drive Oregon board promoting the electric vehicle industry from Oregon,” Klaas said. “Jessica Metta[ director of the Gorge Technology Alliance], has joined the Unmanned Aerial System board, trying to leverage business growth there.”

They are both working closely with the organizations to recruit business to Oregon and The Dalles, based on those partnerships, Klaas said.

Construction on the North Chenoweth subdivision is due for completion in August. Held said a larger ribbon-cutting and barbecue celebration is planned at that time.

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