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June 20, 2014

No potash plant at Port of Vancouver - for now

Portland Business Journal

Wendy Culverwell

Port of Vancouver USA is marketing nearly 100 acres of prime real estate at its Terminal 5 site after allowing a highly-touted agreement with Australian mining giant BHP Billiton to expire.

BHP Billiton selected the Vancouver site in 2010 as its preferred site for a potash export facility to support its Jansen Project, in Saskatchewan, Canada. It entered a series of agreements with the port in February 2012 but never signed a final lease.

The deal was heralded as the largest in the port's history and was expected to provide a major economic boost, thought the port did not disclose how many jobs the plant would have brought. The decision to allow the agreement to lapse on June 16 was mutual and BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) could site a potash facility at another port facility in the future.

The move frees a rare 100-acre parcel for development in a market that is just starting to see fresh speculative development after a long recession-induced lull.

The Portland area's industrial vacancy rate was a tight 5.4 percent at the end of the first quarter, according to Kidder Mathews.

A chronic shortage of available land is expected to curtail new development, keeping inventories down and asking rents up. The Vancouver site could provide welcome relief.

Local developers have nearly 2 million square feet of industrial space either under construction or in the development pipeline, according to a spring market study by Capacity Commercial Group. "We're confident that we can find a new tenant for Terminal 5 in the near future," said Todd Coleman, the port's CEO. "It's an extremely attractive property due to its size and access to the river, road and rail transportation.

For the full story, go to Portland Business Journal.

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