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May 8, 2021

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Port of Astoria saves big on loans

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The Port of Astoria will save more than $500,000 by refinancing a loan used to buy the Taggart Building on Pier 1.

The Port took out a $1.7 million loan with Clatsop Community Bank in 2010 to buy the three-story office complex, named after the family of former Port Commissioner Glenn Taggart, who developed the building. The loan was later transferred to Lewis & Clark Bank.

The agency worked with David Ulbricht, an adviser with the Special Districts Association of Oregon, to recruit other banks and refinance at lower interest rates. The best proposal came from Kitsap Bank based in Port Orchard, Washington, which offered a fully amortized loan running through June 2035 that Ulbricht said would ultimately save the agency around $550,000.

The new loan agreement with Kitsap Bank will cost the Port around $110,000 a year, Ulbricht said, versus around $150,000 a year with Lewis & Clark. The agreement will also remove a lien on the building used as collateral, he said.

“The bank you’re getting the funding from is taking just your promise to pay – no bank fees, no loan fees, no appraisals, no deeds, a very simple transaction,” he said. “And I’m excited as much as you folks are, because when we are able to save our members money in the process and get them good financing, then we’re doing our job.”

The Port moved out of its third-floor offices in the Taggart Building in 2019 to save money, returning to the former headquarters on Gateway Avenue. The agency has since leased most of the upstairs of the Taggart Building to medical offices, including Watershed Wellness and Dr. Kevin Baxter, who left Columbia Memorial Hospital in September and restarted his former practice, Baxter Family Medicine.

Will Isom, the Port’s executive director, said the Port will also likely receive another yearlong deferment of loans through the state’s Infrastructure Finance Authority.

Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, gave the Port one year off of principal and interest payments starting last spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Isom estimated the one-year deferment saved the Port $900,000 in principal and $300,000 in interest.

“Depending on the loan, we had various payments that were going to start coming due between April of ’21 and June of ’21, and those will be extended for an additional 12 months,” Isom said.

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