By John Gillie, August 22, 2014, The News Tribune
Forty-six years after the Port of Tacoma bought a former ammunition plant site in Frederickson as a location for new industry, the port commission Thursday agreed to sell its last available parcels there to a King County developer.
Commission members unanimously agreed to sell 43 acres at Frederickson to Benaroya Capital Co. Inc. for an estimated price of $4.58 million. Benaroya’s unnamed client plans to build what port real estate executives described as a “vehicle processing plant” on the property. That plant will reportedly employ 30 to 50 workers.
Joe Alhadeff, a Benaroya executive, said he couldn’t reveal more about the intended use for the property Thursday. “You’re just a little premature,” he said.
The port bought 500 acres at Frederickson in 1968 for $1.6 million. The land was zoned for industry, but while it was served by rail, the road networking reaching the site was deficient. In the intervening years, the Frederickson area has become a major industrial hub for Pierce County with industries and distribution warehouses locating on port land and nearby land owned by private land owners. Boeing, for instance, builds the tails for 787 jets and wing structures for other Boeing airliners at Frederickson. Toray Composites America produces raw carbon fiber used in Boeing planes around the world at Frederickson.
Pierce County has improved road access to the site over several years, widening Canyon Road that connects the site to the Washington State Highway 512.
Port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said the port has five other parcels under sale contracts at the site. When those deals and the Benaroya property close, the port will have no more land there.
Port commissioner Don Meyer congratulated the port team for making the final sale and thanked the three port commissioners who nearly half a century ago had the foresight to snap up the land.
The port put the final two parcels on the market in July 2012.
In other significant business Thursday, the commission agreed to lease a 33-acre property at East 11th Street and Alexander Avenue on the Tideflats to Puget Sound Energy. The Bellevue-based utility plans to build a $275-million natural gas liquification and distribution plant at the site on the Hylebos Waterway.
The facility will supply liquified natural gas by a short pipeline to the nearby Totem Ocean Trailer Express Tacoma terminal. TOTE is converting its two huge trailerships to operate on LNG instead of on bunker fuel. Burning natural gas will greatly reduce pollutants emitted by the two ships that provide twice-weekly service to Anchorage.
The LNG facility will also serve as a “filling station,” the first in the state, for other transportation vehicles, ships, locomotives and trucks that convert to the less expensive and less polluting natural gas.
The 8-million-gallon storage tank on site will also store LNG for reintroduction into Puget’s 22,000 miles of natural gas pipes in the Puget Sound area during times of high demand when Puget’s normal pipeline supply can’t cope with peak demands. About 150 workers will be employed in the plant’s three-year construction, and 18 workers will operate the plant when it opens in 2018.