Port considers new lease option for NWIW

DOUG HAYES

Chronicle Guest Column

Over the past 5 years, NWIW, a proposed natural gas to methanol production facility, has paid $771,147.00 into escrow for a legal document called an “Option,” which gives NWIW the possibility to lease property from the Port of Columbia County at the Port Westward property.

If all conditions of the Option are met, this money would be dispersed to the Port at the signing of a permanent lease. If either party fails to perform according to the conditions of the Option, the option can be terminated and money on deposit in an escrow account would be split between NWIW and the Port depending on the termination conditions. For example, if the Option is terminated because the Port failed to perform due diligence, then it is possible that 100 percent of the deposited money would be returned to NWIW.

However, for a variety of reasons, neither party was able to complete the conditions of the Option. As a result, NWIW approached Port staff and asked to vacate their existing Option while asking for another Option on land that is in the process of being rezoned for industrial use at Port Westward.

Vee Godley, of NWIW, came to the Port commission meeting on May 8, 2019 and told Port Commissioners that the NWIW project is taking longer than they originally estimated. NWIW understands that Columbia County needs the jobs now, so they are offering to make the property available to other tenants. This would allow the only piece of property the Port owns at Port Westward, that is currently zoned for industrial use, available for development.

Under this arrangement, the Port will receive $578,000 from the escrow account while NWIW will receive $193,000.

Until this new option with NWIW is adopted, the Port is contractually forbidden from discussing the current option property with anyone.

If approved by the Port Commission, the Port will have over one-half million dollars to use on other projects for Columbia County that otherwise would not be available. This will mean more jobs and tax revenues for the citizens of Columbia County.

Doug Hayes is the Port of Columbia County executive director. He may be reached at 503-379-2888, or at Hayes@portofcolumbiacounty.org.

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