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HILLSBORO, OR-Komatsu Silicon America’s 46-acre, 420,000-sf chip plant here has changed hands for $22 million. The new owner is a joint venture of Benaroya Co. and Real Property Investors, two Seattle-based companies that plan to re-brand and lease up the vacant building to multiple tenants. The seller was Raymond Park, a multimillionaire who acquired the property two years ago from Komatsu along with another 48 acres of contiguous, undeveloped land.

The building is located on Northwest Evergreen Road west of Shute Road. Komatsu began developing the property in 1996 with a silicon-wafer coating facility that was going to be supplied with wafers made at Komatsu plants in Japan and Taiwan. That same year, confident that demand was strong enough to justify it, Komatsu began construction of the $500-million wafer-making facility 12 months ahead of schedule. It was preparing to open the plant in 1998 when the semiconductor industry tanked. The property was never put to its intended use, though its office and warehouse space has been partially utilized over the years.

Komatsu originally listed the property for sale at $80 million. Immediately prior to Park acquiring the property the list price was down to $40 million, or about $5 million more than its book value. The negotiated sale price to Park was $5 million “plus other consideration” that was never revealed but it is believed to have related to 3,000 acres in Arizona that Komatsu leases from Park Corp.

The sale from Komatsu to Park closed at the end of March 2004. Parent company Komatsu Ltd. reported a $30-million loss on the transaction. A broker who specializes in the sale of high-tech facilities told GlobeSt.com at the time that he was “shocked” by the sale price, which equated to $1.24 per sf in a market where two years ago land was valued at a minimum of $3 per sf.

“It sets a new low with respect to ROI given the (investment) Komatsu had in the site,” said the broker, adding that Komatsu may have needed the sale to close by the end of its fiscal year, which ends at the end of every March. Komatsu’s official comment was that the property was sold “to reduce and make effective utilization of Komatsu Group’s assets.” An industry source says Komatsu received a nine-figure tax benefit by selling when it did.

The Benaroya-RPI joint venture is believed to also hold an option on the 48 undeveloped acres that Park acquired from Komatsu along with the chip plant, but that could not be confirmed prior to publishing this story. Real Property Investors is run by Mike McKernan, who could not be reached for comment on Monday. Benaroya principal Larry Benaroya also was unavailable for comment.

Park, who grew up in the greater Portland area, had an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2002. Officially, the owner of the Komatsu property is Park Company of Oregon LLC, a subsidiary of Park Corp. of Cleveland. The chairman of the company is Raymond Park and the major shareholder is the Park family.

Andy Pihl, who had been working with Park on the Komatsu property, will now be working for the RPI-Benaroya JV, helping it break up and lease up the building. The bulk of the building is manufacturing space, but it does include about 50,000 sf of office space. Park reportedly spent $5 million beyond the acquisition price to clear the property of hazardous chemicals.

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