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RIDGEFIELD, WA-The Port of Ridgefield is gearing up to develop another quadrant of former farmland around Exit 14 from Interstate 5. Having sold all but one small parcel of Ridgefield Industrial Park, which occupied the southwest quadrant of the intersection, the Port is turning its focus to the northeast quadrant, where it is planning Discovery Pointe Corporate Park, a 75-acre chunk of land slated for more of an office build out.

The Port acquired the bulk of the property in March 2003 when it paid Waldon Groves $2.5 million or $1.29 per sf for 45 acres adjacent to 30 acres it already owned. The sale closed around the same time Portland developer Greg Specht tied up another 40 acres at the same intersection owned by Jack Gainer. The land has been planned for Ridgefield Commerce Center, a complementary project that will pick up where the Port’s industrial park is leaving off.

Pre-development of the Port’s acreage is expected to take much longer than Specht’s. Specht’s land came with sufficient water and sewer service close by and, while it was in escrow, Specht was working with the City of Ridgefield to subdivide the property into 11 lots capable of holdings a combined 480,000 sf of manufacturing, warehouse and distribution buildings. The Port’s land, by contrast, was in need of more significant infrastructure upgrades, had a long-standing goose habitat overlay and the Port hadn’t begun working toward obtaining the necessary entitlements.

“Realistically it will be a couple of years for the pre-development process,” Port executive director Brent Grening told GlobeSt.com at the time of the acquisition. “On the other hand, there are companies looking all the time, and it’s not inconceivable that things could (accelerate).”

When reached for an update, Scott Fraser, the broker who handled both land transactions and now is marketing the Port’s property, tells GlobeSt.com that the marketing of the land has not really begun yet and there is no imminent development deal in the works to speed up things as yet. However, the goose habitat overlay has been removed and the Port is now in the process of evaluating the site’s infrastructure needs and moving through the master planning and entitlement process with the city, says Fraser, formerly with Colliers International and now with GVA Kidder Mathews. Specht, meanwhile, has reportedly overcome obstacles related to stormwater and wetlands and is planning to install infrastructure in the spring and summer.

Other land around the freeway exchange has been in the hands of developers for a few years now. As reported in GlobeSt.com in early 2001, Colorado-based Schuck Development Corp. plans a $500-million, 286-acre. mixed-use development called Union Ridge that is located directly across Interstate 5 from Specht’s property. So far, the site includes an operation by Dollar Tree Stores that occupies 57 acres.

Two exits up the highway, the Cowlitz Tribe this spring submitted an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place 152 acres at La Center Junction in federal trust, the first step toward using the land for a gaming operation. In March, the BIA deputy regional director of Trust Services Gerald Ben told GlobeSt.com that, while an approved application does not necessarily mean a casino would definitely result, “it would be very hard not to imagine them doing it.”

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