Port of Tacoma Wants New Proposals for Two Key Industrial Tracts

By John Gillie, November 5, 2013, The News Tribune

The Port of Tacoma is moving quickly to find new users for two major port-owned industrial tracts after original plans for the sites imploded.

The port has sent prospective users invitations to bid on the two tracts. Those companies’ responses are due next month.

The two sites are the 745-acre Maytown property in Thurston County and the 60-acre former Kaiser aluminum smelter site on the Tacoma Tideflats.

The Maytown property reverted to the port last month after Maytown Sand & Gravel, which had fallen behind in its payments for the land, agreed to return the tract to the port. The Kaiser site is back on the market after Targa Sound Terminals told the port earlier this fall that Targa’s plan to build a $150 million petroleum products terminal on the site wasn’t financially feasible.

Port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said port real estate executives are hoping to capitalize on interest several companies have expressed in the two sites by seeking proposals from them for putting the properties to productive use.

The failed deals weren’t total losses for the port.  Targa had paid the port $700,000 in fees while it explored the specifics of building the oil terminal on the Kaiser site.  And Maytown Sand and Gravel had paid the port $1 million in cash and $200,000 in gravel it had mined from the site. Maytown bought the Thurston County tract in 2010.

Both sites hold considerable potential, said Mattina.  The port originally purchased the Maytown property in 2006 for $21 million and had invested some $6.5 million in cleaning up the property, a former explosives plant site. The port had hoped to build a large rail yard and logistics center on the land as well as mining gravel there.

Local opposition, which wanted the land preserved as open space or as a wildlife refuge, ultimately persuaded Thurston County politicians to drop their support of the project, and the port decided to dispose of the property.

Maytown Sand and Gravel had agreed to pay the port $8.5 million in cash and $8.5 million in gravel for the land over several years.  The gravel company had delivered some 250 truckloads of gravel to the port. That gravel was spread over the Kaiser site.

The port and Maytown Sand and Gravel Co. are suing Thurston County saying that the Thurston County commissioners delays in affirming the gravel mining permit cost the gravel company and the port money.  That case is pending in Lewis County Superior Court.  If the plaintiffs win, a judgment could cost Thurston County several million dollars.

The Kaiser property sits in close proximity to port’s East Blair terminal where goods could be loaded or unloaded from barges and ships.

The port is continuing to invest in two new mile-long rail lead tracks to serve the property and other nearby land.

“Most businesses wanting to lease the property will likely want to have good rail access,” said Mattina.

At Maytown, the port  has an operating agreement for the gravel mine with Lloyd Enterprises of Milton, one of the original partners in Maytown Sand and Gravel.

Local opponents of the port industrialization plan for Maytown had hoped that the state or some conservation group would buy the land, but none had the funds available when the property was last for sale.

The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has asked to be included on the port’s mailing list for proposals for the property but it hasn’t expressed any firm interest in buying the property.

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