PORTLAND-A team of Oregon companies is developing a master plan for land surrounding the Pocatello Regional Airport, a one-time World War II military air base in eastern Idaho with daily non-stop flights to Boise, Seattle and Salt Lake City. Sites and infrastructure for the development will accommodate nearly 3 million sf of commercial, industrial and supporting retail uses on 200 acres adjoining Interstate 86, six miles from Interstate 15 and central Pocatello. The master plan is being developed by the Mitchell Nelson Group LLC of Portland and Elesco Ltd. (Lee Smith) of Bend, OR. The two have worked with port districts, municipalities, private landowners and others across the Northwest to see unused land developed for maximum local area economic development benefits. Mitchell Nelson handles the master planning and Elesco crunches the numbers. Another Portland company, Clausen Marketing, figures out how best to get the word out to developers and would-be users.The Pocatello Regional Airport, owned by the City of Pocatello and run by an airport commission, currently has several solid tenants including Idaho State University’s Aviation Maintenance Technology facilities, FedEx, NOAA and others. However, the lack of a master development plan has limited the airport’s ability to market successfully the airport to a wider audience. When the master plan obtains final approvals this summer, marketing efforts will be coordinated with Bannock Development Corporation, the Pocatello regional economic development agency. Guiding development will be a new Airport Plan District and development standards and architectural design guidelines contained in Mitchell Nelson’s master plan. The plan includes a redesigned core area near the Terminal featuring new short and long-term parking lots, realigned streets, a public park and parcels sized for small and mid-sized businesses, retail, and hospitality trades. Surrounding that will be land for light manufacturing, warehouse and distribution buildings. The impetus for the project is the increasing attraction of this heretofore largely agricultural area due in part to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab and Idaho State University’s Business and Research Park. INEEL is a multi-program laboratory that supports the US Department of Energy’s missions and business lines of environmental quality, energy resources, science and technology, and national security. These facilities have helped to attract new businesses, like AMI Semiconductor, Inc. who moved their operations from Silicon Valley to Pocatello. “The area, which includes nearby Idaho Falls, lacks a large, master-planned business and light industrial park, but has quite a large and active development community pushed by the university and the National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory,” says John Nelson of Mitchell Nelson. “The potential is quite real.”Nelson says the new airport district plan, submitted to the City of Pocatello last week, will be in front of the city’s planning commission for approval at the end of the month. Options for development include signing a ground lease for the entire site with a master developer or bringing in developers on a parcel-by-parcel basis. “Obviously, with that kind of acreage the district will be developed over a long period,” says Nelson. “Realistically we would like to see between 25- and 50 acres developed in the next five- to seven years that allow water and sewer and streets to go in while we wait to see how the economy starts to play out.”As a former World War II facility, the Pocatello Regional Airport sports a 9,500-foot runway, which has many people hopeful a full-fledged air cargo facility can rise at the airport. “Nobody is trying to make this DFW International,” says Nelson, “but when you look at regional airports, this one has a lot of the right pieces in place to attract further development.”

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