St. Helens city officials are looking at future major economic strength through development of an industrial business park at the site the former Boise White Paper Mill site at Kaster Road.
On Wednesday, May 5, the St. Helens City Council reviewed a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the St. Helens Industrial Business Park, a 205-acre area, zoned for industrial uses, and situated along the banks of the Multnomah Channel of the Willamette River.
The council authorized moving forward with a request for qualification for the design, engineering, and construction management services for infrastructure at the former mill site.
The city is seeking qualifications from licensed professional engineering firms with the intent of contracting to submit all necessary permit applications and prepare design and construction documents, specifications, work schedules, construction cost estimates, and construction management services for the St. Helens Industrial Business Park infrastructure.
City planners state that city leaders and community members recognized the need for a change on the waterfront when two large wood product industries left the community after years of declining profitability. After the closures, the city was left with hundreds of acres of industrial brown fields located on the Columbia River.
“As underutilized riverfront property zoned industrial, this property provides an incredible opportunity to transform the future of the City,” St. Helens Deputy City Administrator Matt Brown stated in the report to the city council.
Phased development approach
In the first step to attract industrial development to the riverfront, the city is seeking professional services to create an industrial subdivision for Phase 1 of the park.
Phase 1 would include design work for:
• Transportation network and streetscape
• Sanitary Sewer
• Stormwater management
• Lot and right-of-way platting
The utility infrastructure design should be flexible and able to meet the needs of a range of future users, the planning outline states. “The updated market analysis, included in the parcelization plan, indicates that smaller parcels of 2-5 acres with the potential to be combined into larger 10-20-acre parcels are desirable. This approach also provides the flexibility to accommodate a range of future industrial activities.”
The planners state that the lack of access and infrastructure is the primary development challenge for matching potential users with the site. Most property lines and some rights-of-way will need to be created/reconfigured as well. The city expects to develop the site in a phased approach.
The city is also reviewing funding options for the industrial park development.
The City of St. Helens has received a technical assistance grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) in 2019 to develop a master plan for the industrial park.
The master plan (SHIBP) assesses existing physical conditions and development barriers, summarizes pertinent information from previous plan documents and decisions, defines targeted industrial user types, and provides a framework for parcelization. Importantly, planners said, is that the city has also scoped the master plan to include a phased infrastructure funding plan.
“To date, we understand that the key development barriers in the SHIBP are its environmental, regulatory, and infrastructure conditions,” the planners outline states. “The intent of this funding plan is to coordinate solutions to address infrastructure barriers by:
• Clarifying how infrastructure will be delivered and funded.
• Coordinating investment responsibilities across a range of public and private partners (i.e., those who will be involved in funding the capital projects needed to allow development of the SHIBP).
• Identifying actions and funding resources to address the infrastructure needs in the SHIBP.
During the council’s discussion of the business park development, Mayor Rick Scholl ordered staff to mute Councilor Stephen Topaz during a portion of the public Zoom electronic meeting. Scholl saying Topaz was out of order.
Topaz had been questioning the project and suggesting that the city’s sewer plant would need to be moved for such development. Scholl said the plan did not have anything to do with the sewer plant and that there would be specific discussions about site concerns during a further review process.
Read the full plan below.
Follow developments here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.