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Port enters agreement to buy lower Hanel Mill site

The Port of Hood River entered into an agreement this week to purchase the former site of the lower Hanel Mill in Odell for $850,000, pending the completion of a five-month due diligence process. The 9.3-acre property, seen above looking north from Highway 35, is zoned light industrial and is planned to be used by the port for economic development purposes. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said three businesses have currently expressed interest in locating in the Odell area and could be a good fit for the property.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
The Port of Hood River entered into an agreement this week to purchase the former site of the lower Hanel Mill in Odell for $850,000, pending the completion of a five-month due diligence process. The 9.3-acre property, seen above looking north from Highway 35, is zoned light industrial and is planned to be used by the port for economic development purposes. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said three businesses have currently expressed interest in locating in the Odell area and could be a good fit for the property.

The Port of Hood River made a significant addition to its property portfolio this week after entering into a purchase agreement with Hanel Development Group to buy the site of the former lower Hanel Mill in Odell.

At the conclusion of an executive session during its regular meeting on Tuesday, the port commission voted to purchase the 9.3-acre site for $850,000, which is subject to a five-month due diligence process. Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said the port plans to use the site for economic development purposes.

“The commission sees that property as being very suitable to support the expansion of local businesses and job creation in the mid valley,” he said.

The site, located at 3289 Neal Creek Mill, was last purchased in 1983 by Sterling Hanel and served as the site of the lumber mill that bore his name until operations formally ceased in November of last year. Last month, the company auctioned off the mill’s remaining equipment in a liquidation sale.

McElwee described the lot as “mostly vacant,” with the exception of a 20,000-square-foot building and a 50,000-square-foot building that were previously used as storage and offices. He added the property also contained a weigh station as well as a loading dock. McElwee was unsure whether the port will keep the buildings or decide to demolish them.

The property is one of two the port owns in Odell. In 1990, the port developed John Weber Business Park, located on Eagle Loop, but the port now only owns one building, which McElwee said is currently the site of operations for Oregon Brineworks and Wyeast Laboratories.

The port’s newest Odell property is zoned light industrial and McElwee said the location would prove to be “very effective for light industrial uses that don’t want to be down at the [Hood River] Waterfront.” He added that the property was attractive to the port for a number of logistical reasons, including proximity to Highway 35 as well as the Mount Hood Railroad, which McElwee said runs right next to the former mill site and could provide opportunities for offloading.

According to McElwee, the port has been in conversations with three businesses that are looking to possibly locate in the Odell area and may be a good fit for the new site. He reported two of the businesses are local, and one is from the Northwest. He said one business is involved in “food production” while the others deal with “light manufacturing,” but declined to divulge the businesses’ names. McElwee added the property consists of multiple parcels and could be subdivided to potentially accommodate more than one business.

The port is now going through its due-diligence process, which must be completed before the sale can close. Some of the requirements include getting additional appraisals of the property, assessing utility capacity, and conducting a geotechnical analysis. Once the process is completed, the port commission can decide whether or not to move forward with the purchase.

McElwee said he hopes the property will continue to be a source of “economic development and job creation” like it was during the lower Hanel Mill days.

“We want to continue that legacy,” he said.

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