Port of Longview commissioners agreed Friday to buy a small sliver of shoreline property at Barlow Point west of Longview, unlocking the big development potential of 275 acres of industrial property on the Columbia River.
The 7.5-acre parcel cost about $63,000 and gives the port 4,000 feet of continuous riverfront, which port officials say is enough space to build multiple new docks. The sale will close within 90 days and the price amounts to about $8,381 per acre.
Port officials called the buy a crucial component to attracting new industry and creating jobs at the undeveloped Barlow Point property.
"We need to have this in place for someone to seriously consider (developing at) the port. If you're trying to market the port and don't have access to riverfront property, it limits the process," said Norm Krehbiel, the port's deputy director.
The land, which the port bought from neighboring Millennium Bulk Terminals, is a thin finger running west from the edge of the former Reynolds Metals site to Barlow Point.
Port officials have been pursuing the land since they bought the Barlow Point property for $2.45 million at foreclosure auction in October 2010. This tract changing hands was part of a larger, 45-acre parcel previously owned by Longview businessman Jeff Wilson, who sold to Millennium in February for $755,000, or $16,777 per acre, according to Cowlitz County records.
The port had tried to buy the land directly from Wilson, who said in February he sold to Millennium because he felt the company would better preserve recreational opportunities on the property. Also, Wilson said he was frustrated the port had taken him to court to gain access to the waterfront through his property with an easement.
Instead, the port obtained Millennium's right-of-way that runs from Mount Solo Road to the river through the Barlow Point property — another move port officials identified as essential to attracting developers to lease port land.
"It makes our property our own. Before, it was ours, but other people had right of ways through it," Commissioner Darold Dietz said.
Millennium still owns close to 40 acres of land upriver, which company officials say they plan to use for mitigation when they develop a proposed $640 milllion coal terminal at the former Reynolds site next door. Millennium officials also said they wanted to be good neighbors and help the port develop its industrial land.
The company is currently working with land owner Alcoa Corp. on cleaning up its remaining property, which was contaminated for decades when the Reynolds aluminum plant was operating.