Home / Business / The WestRock paper mill in Newberg will be renovated

The WestRock paper mill in Newberg will be renovated

PORTLAND, Oregon (GRANDSTAND OF PORTLAND) – Last week the body that took on the task of converting the former site of the Newberg paper mill into building land was revealed to the public: Commercial Development Company Inc.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based company announced that it has purchased the more than 200-acre former mill site and adjacent land from WestRock, the Georgia-based paper-making giant for an undisclosed amount. bought and then closed the plant in 2015.

The purchase includes 120 acres of industrial land, 4 acres of multi-family residential land and 1.5 acres of commercial land located within state-designated business and opportunity zones primarily south of the city limits. The site includes a large stretch of undeveloped land on Wynooski Street adjacent to the Cal-Portland concrete plant, a portion of the Rogers Landing Marine Park, and two stretches of residential land on either side of the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

CDC officials said in a press release on Sept. 29 that as part of the purchase it exonerated WestRock of liability for environmental liabilities through its subsidiary, Environmental Liability Transfer. Since the 1

880s, the ground has housed a number of mills for lumber and newsprint and is likely to require extensive environmental cleaning.

“We are excited to expand our redevelopment efforts into the greater Portland area,” said Adam Kovacs, vice president of CDC. “Our acquisition of this disused factory is the first step in repurposing the property and bringing it back into productive use: the site has phenomenal development potential and we are eager to see the economic benefits this transaction brings to the region.”

Kovacs added that the company will meet with local business leaders to find potential buyers “who could benefit from the large amount of land available and a prime location” as well as proximity to Corridor I-5, rail access, “significant” water rights and access to substantial electricity.

Initial plans for the site included the removal of waste, the sale of equipment, and the demolition of most of the site’s buildings. The company, the statement said, expects the site to be ready for redevelopment by the end of 2021.

The sale of the former WestRock mill site includes industrial estate properties outside the city limits on Wynooski Street and two lots within the city limits adjacent to the Newberg-Dundee bypass, as well as a large portion of Rogers Landing. (Courtesy rendering: CDC)

“CDC will prepare the site for a variety of end uses, including lot sales, custom construction and rental properties,” said John Kowalik, CDC’s vice president of marketing. “We are still early in the planning process, but we are repositioning the property for its better and better use.”

Although they were probably aware of the negotiations between the CDC and WestRock, city officials were nonetheless exuberant to learn of the sale last week.

“I am thrilled that such an experienced and proven business partner has seen the vast potential of Newberg plant ownership,” said Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers. “The site has been unproductive for too long and we can’t wait for the transformation to come. For Newberg, the redevelopment will result in more resources [and] economic and employment opportunities for residents and visitors. “

The city is in the midst of establishing its riverside master plan, which involves developing land adjacent to the mill site for commercial, recreational and residential uses over the next few decades. The plan calls for the development of a thin tract of land along the headland which sits between the Newberg-Dundee bypass and the Willamette River in a commercial, residential and recreational area that borders the mill property to the east. If the plan – recently adopted by the city after years at the drawing board – were to include the site of the mill, then the land would have to be reclassified by the county as being designated for industrial use.

“Yamhill County and the City of Newberg have so much to gain from the sale of the disused site,” said Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla. “We expect a legacy site to be cleaned up; we can get excellent jobs in the community. With our county’s strong manufacturing base and this large-scale industrial site, I anticipate that we will attract additional successful businesses to the site and strengthen the resilience of our community. I’m so excited.”

Lead intermediary in the acquisition between WestRock and CDC, Philip Higgins of Pacific Crest Real Estate Advisors based in Newberg, said the redevelopment of the paper mill site would be a boon to the local economy.

“This site represents a huge opportunity not only for Newberg and Yamhill County, but for the surrounding region, to create jobs now and in the future,” he said. “Large format industrial sites over 100 acres are a rarity in our land-limited market and this brownfield redevelopment will be a significant win for our local and regional economy.”

This is not his first rodeo

The CDC bills itself as a private company that has acquired and developed “underutilized, distressed, or environmentally challenged properties” at more than 300 sites in the United States and Canada since 1990. The company specializes in remediation of industrial parks, farms, quarries, landfills, retail centers and environmentally impacted buildings and land, primarily in the Midwest and East Coast. The closest example of the company’s work is in Mead, Washington, a suburb of Spokane, where CDC purchased a 1.8 million square foot former aluminum smelter on 192 acres from Kaiser Aluminum. Cleaning up the site required the removal of cyanide and asbestos.

Just like the plans for the former WestRock mill, the CDC sold excess machinery and equipment to Washington, addressed environmental issues, and demolished the factory’s smelting line, where more than 2,000 pots had produced aluminum since the second. world War.

Inactive for many years

The Newberg plant has been closed since the fall of 2015 after Atlanta-based WestRock bought it in a deal that included a second mill. The company initially said it would make improvements to the facility to make it more profitable, but then suddenly shut it down, firing its more than 200 workers first and then firing them permanently a few months later.

The mill was listed on Colliers International shortly after its closure. The company sought a $ 8.25 million contract with the warning that the paper-making machinery inside would be destroyed.

The company received at least three sales offers for the plant, including from an Idaho company that wanted to demolish the scrap metal mill but later withdrew its offer. Two other paper companies made unsuccessful offers to purchase the plant at undisclosed prices.

WestRock took the mill off the market for a short time before putting it back on sale in May 2018 after company officials said there was renewed interest in its purchase.

John Stakel, senior vice president and WestRock treasurer, said the company came to believe that selling the mill for possible mixed-use development would provide the best value for WestRock and the city.

“(We) believe there is a great opportunity for a buyer to fully redevelop the property in line with the city’s proposed riverside master plan and for the long-term benefit of local residents,” Stakel said.

The move came after the city had convened a subcommittee to consider asking WestRock to donate part of the stretch to the city.

“We wouldn’t rule out any options at this point, but we are very early in the planning process,” Kowalik said.

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