Port of Sunnyside Officials Make Major Economic Development Strides in 2013

By John Fannin, December 31, 2013

Thanks to the port’s new anaerobic digester slated to be on-line in 2014, the Darigold plant in Sunnyside will be expanded and in the process 25 new jobs will be created.


The year 2013 was one to remember for the Port of Sunnyside as it embarks on its 50th anniversary in 2014.


In 2013 the port made strides towards eventually installing a new anaerobic digester that will double wastewater processing capacity of its sequencing batch reactor.


In addition, steps were made this year to prepare the former Carnation plant at South First Street and Lincoln Ave-nue for future development.


“Overall, we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made and look forward to a new year…our 50th anniversary,” said Jed Crowther, the port’s property development and project manager.


With grant and loan funding obtained earlier this year, the port will seek bids for the digester project in February or March of 2014 and may start construction out near Midvale Road as soon as this spring. Crowther says the goal is to have the digester operational by November 2014.


As for the landmark Carnation plant, Crowther shared that clean-up of environmental issues created by neighboring properties is on track to be completed. He says the next step is that the Department of Ecology will require quarterly monitoring of the site.

New tenants and a new home for the Port of Sunnyside’s administrative offices all took place at Golob Landing during 2013. Nearby, the area is also home to a new YV-Tech Skills Center now under construction.


While environmental issues appear to be on track for resolution in 2014, Crowther says demolition and site prep at the property could start in 2014.


He notes, though, that the historic Carnation water tower will remain in place as part of future development at the site.


Elsewhere in the Sunnyside area, the port in 2013 also added a second rail spur for Bleyhl’s petroleum storage and transportation needs.


Port of Sunnyside progress in 2013 extended not only to industrial expansion, but to practical, business matters as well. The port in 2013 found a new place to call home as it moved into the former Horizon building at Golob Landing on East Edison Avenue.


The larger quarters not only give the port’s administrative needs room to grow, but its presence has helped pave the way for a boon of sorts in renting out the entire building.


Besides the port, Fastenal and Integrity Driving School both became tenants at Golob Landing in 2013. YV Tech is also using a portion of the former Horizon building until construction on a new skills center is completed nearby.


The increased activity not only at Golob Landing, but also near Midvale Road where Bleyhl is leasing a second rail line from the port, is all part of increased confidence, said Jay Hester, the port’s executive director.


“People are getting more comfortable with the economy and seeing if they can make things happen,” Hester said in September of 2013.


As a result, the port anticipates real estate sales in 2014, possibly to the tune of $1.5 million. “I have a good feeling we’re going to have some properties sell,” Hester said this past fall of feelers from heavy and light industrial interests.


The impact has already been felt in Sunnyside, as Darigold is committing to spend millions on its Sunnyside plant and create another 25 jobs once the port’s wastewater plant capacity expands.


Hester has noted the advent of so many projects getting completed or well underway – like the new YV Tech Skills Center near Golob Landing – can be deceiving. He says it often takes years of patient discussions to finally reach a point of moving forward on a project. Hester, for example, says the port’s involvement on talks to bring a skills center to Sunnyside started six years ago or longer.


Patience is a virtue, as is vision and flexibility. The port knows well about all three traits, as 2013 also saw the agency decide to not move forward with a wetlands project due to progress associated with the digester plans.


Whether it’s remembering the past with the Carnation tower or gearing up for prospective development, the port in 2013, 2014 and beyond is all about being ready.


“The message we like to share is that we’re looking to the future, serving industry and agriculture,” said Crowther.

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