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Spencer Creek Rendering

An artist's rendering of what Kalama's Spencer Creek Business Park could look like when it's fully developed.

Courtesy photo

The Port of Kalama’s efforts to build a major business park off Kalama River Road will continue as planned despite a recent letdown.

Not a single developer pitched business models or plans for the port’s Spencer Creek Business Park after the port published a request for interest in late January.

On Jan. 22, the port asked interested developers to propose business ideas for the sprawling park’s first 5-acre parcel of land. Its website saw a 35 percent increase in traffic during the following weeks.

“What we were seeking was a kind of master developer situation for the entire parcel,” Eric Yakovich, the port’s business development manager, said in an interview last week.

Despite stirring online interest, however, the request did not garner any responses by a Feb. 28 deadline. Port officials say they’re not worried, and they customarily are patient when it comes to projects. The request for interest is still online while the port begins reaching out to individual developers, Yakovich said.

“Now we’ll talk to individual developers who may be interested in developing a section of that parcel,” he said.

In the meantime, work will proceed on road and utility improvements for the 70-acre park over the next year. That should make the first available parcel — ideally situated just 100 feet from Interstate 5 — more desirable, said Mark Wilson, the port’s executive director.

“We’ll be patient. We’ll work our way through it and create jobs over time as it fits within the natural progression of things,” he said. “Eventually the curbs will actually have some curb appeal.”

Possibilities for the parcel still include a fuel station or coffee shop, he said. And a recent economic analysis found that a limited-service hotel supported by freeway and business travelers would be successful at the location.

In addition to its proximity to I-5, the parcel borders Kress Lake and Haydu Park, and recreational paths will eventually run throughout the business park. In the long-term, Wilson and Yakovich said they see destination retailers or a corporate campus as additional possibilities.

A recent market analysis found that the Spencer Creek property would be best suited for a mix of 75 percent light industrial buildings and 25 percent other buildings for offices, retail or hospitality businesses.

Wilson said port officials are still confident in the parks’ long-term appeal as growth from the Portland and Vancouver areas continues to creep up the I-5 corridor.

“We just see this as having a lot of potential for the future,” he said.

The port has already spent about $3.4 million improving 360 acres of land encompassing the 70-acre business park and Haydu Park. By those calculations, the port has invested about $9,500 per acre in developing the first parcel released to the public. Battle Ground-based construction company Tapani, Inc. is currently in the second phase of a $1.3 million contract to compact the site using dredge spoils from the Columbia River.

Road crews will also add a roundabout at the intersection of Kalama River Road and Highway 99 this summer. The port will also continue to perform landscaping work, add sidewalks and install lighting.

The addition of interior roads throughout the site within the next year will also form lots. Along with road improvements, Cowlitz PUD soon will relocate about a dozen utility poles to the perimeter of the site.

Wilson noted that the port is still building out its light industrial park — which opened in 2001 — as the market demands.

“Our purposes are more than just the bottom line,” he said. “Our mission is to make the community a better place.”

Here’s a quick rundown of where other major port projects stand:

  • The port’s marina is in the midst of a $4.6 million makeover. The project includes improvements to replace existing abutments, gangways, floats, fuel docks and piles for the 222-slip marina. Workers will also construct a sewer pump-out float and new visitor floats. New potable water service, fire suppression systems, and electric service will be installed. The boat launch will be closed April 16 through May 31.

Members of the public can sign up for email project updates at www.portofkalama.com under the contact tab or go directly to http://bit.ly/2BEvdQc. Updates also will be posted on the port’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Questions can also be directed to the port administrative office at 360-673-2325.

  • Longview contractor JH Kelly has erected a new 110,000-square-foot light industrial building at 2550 North Hendrickson Dr. The $8 million structure is already partially leased to Bozeman, Mont.-based Bridger Steel and Portland-based Marco Industries. Occupancy is expected in mid-August.
  • The port has contracted with Barcott Construction LLC on a $430,000 plan to construct a central stormwater infiltration facility to serve a three-acre site located adjacent to the port’s maintenance shop at 1285 Northwest Third Ave. The project will improve the lot by relocating utilities and removing two obsolete buildings.
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