New demand for industrial land and a new freeway interchange are putting the pressure on real estate in Ridgefield, primed as the Portland-Vancouver area's next outlet for jobs growth.
Illustrating that point, a $1.27 million Ridgefield land purchase of 10.5 industrial acres by Vancouver property developer Elie Kassab was announced Monday by the site's seller, the Port of Ridgefield. Kassab, who is negotiating with two prospective tenants, said the deal is expected to add about 175 jobs to the tract, situated at the west end of South 11th Street near Parr Lumber in Ridgefield.
Kassab, owner of Vancouver-based Prestige Development, bought the site as manager of an LLC called ROK Ridgefield Industrial.
He plans to develop a 60,000-square-foot industrial building for the two tenants to share. He said his potential clients liked the site's close proximity to Ridgefield's junction at Interstate 5 and state Highway 501, also called Pioneer Street. The interchange was recently upgraded as part of a $23 million project to expand onramps and offramps and add freeway overpass capacity.
Land near the interchange also is viewed as affordable, helping it attract expanding and startup businesses, said Brent Grening, the port's chief executive officer.
"Ridgefield is a very viable location for those kinds of investments and that's what's driving the industrial users to look at Ridgefield," he said.
The port sold the land to ROK Ridgefield Industrial LLC for an amount equal to approximately $4 per square foot. The deal closed on May 8.
Kassab said he anticipates breaking ground in the spring of 2015 on a $6 million, 60,000-square-foot structure for his prospective tenants. Although he would not release the names of the businesses, one tenant will use the space for warehouse and distribution. The other will use its space for light manufacturing. In a second phase, Kassab expects to add a 42,000-square-foot structure next door to the larger building. The tract he is purchasing includes some unusable wetlands, all part of a 25-acre site formerly owned by the port.
Grening said work on the site isn't likely to take place until after the port completes an access road to the site, extending South 11th Street west and also extending utilities to the property.
As part of its focus on jobs creation, the Port of Ridgefield in 1984 purchased a 78-acre parcel of land near the I-5 junction to create the Ridgefield Industrial Park. Today, the port says, the industrial park and adjacent development are home to approximately two dozen businesses and hundreds of jobs.
The port still owns a 30-acre tract near the junction on the southeast quadrant of South 45th Avenue and Pioneer Street, where, Grening said, port officials envision developing a business park someday. He foresees, as the market for additional retail and office space begins to recover, those kinds of developments popping up on the privately owned lands near the junction.
"The direction of growth is right up I-5, and Ridgefield is directly in the path of the demand," Grening said.