Developer: Canby South Project Will Bring ‘Tremendous’ Jobs, Traffic

Canby South, a nearly 700,000-square-foot e-commerce warehouse being developed on industrially zoned land in the south Canby industrial park, is expected to bring significant truck traffic as well as good-paying jobs and other economic investment, developers said at a neighborhood meeting earlier this month.

The massive new industrial development is being considered for a 47.54-acre property owned by the Weygandt family and located on Township, Sequoia and Mulino roads.

The property is currently a fescue grass seed field and is zoned for light industrial use. Its immediate neighbors would include American Steel and, eventually, Stanton Furniture, whose 174,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility is still under construction.

The project’s developers are proposing a single, mammoth warehouse building designed for e-commerce use and spanning 683,000 square feet — or approximately 150,000 more than Columbia Distributing’s new beverage warehouse and distribution facility located further up Mulino Road.

The proposed warehouse would be 620 feet wide and 1,102 feet long — more than three football fields. The plans for Canby South also include a possible future expansion of 107,000 more square feet.

Site of the proposed development, Canby South, on Township, Sequoia and Mulino roads. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The project’s team includes developer Trammell Crow Company, one of the most active industrial developers in the Portland metro region, and architects VMLK Engineering + Design.

Both firms have handled many projects in the Canby industrial park — including Columbia Distributing.

Representatives of both firms led the Jan. 6 neighborhood meeting, which was done virtually and which The Canby Current was permitted to attend.

TCC Principal Steve Sieber, who had also helped shepherd Columbia Distributing through the Canby planning process when it was still known by the codename “Project Shakespeare,” has taken the lead on Canby South.

He is also involved with the Baker Center, another speculative industrial project neighboring Columbia Distributing.

“We’re very excited about this project,” Sieber said of Canby South. “It has fantastic size and geometry, and the city of Canby has been very welcoming to us all along.”

A speculative site plan for the proposed Canby South project. Courtesy the City of Canby.

Though Canby South does not yet have a confirmed tenant, the project has been described as e-commerce because that has been the general direction of most industries in recent years — particularly in the wake of Covid-19.

“E-commerce is a very active part of the commercial real estate world right now, and they are requiring a tremendous amount of new space,” Sieber said.

Whereas Columbia Distributing was designed with its end-user in mind, Sieber revealed TCC has engaged with at least four possible users — at “various levels of engagement” — only one of which is expected to eventually occupy the property.

Think of it as a high-stakes, super-secret version of The Bachelor — except that, instead of getting a rose and a ring at the end, you get 700,000 square feet of industrial space.

Though Sieber was unable to name any of the companies interested in the project, he did say two prospects that have shown interest are “food-manufacturing-related,” and that he believes Canby’s reputation as a community closely linked to its agrarian roots was one of the things that appealed to them.

One of the companies makes food packaging, Sieber said.

“Those are the types that like to be out here because they can have a pseudo-agricultural association,” he said. “It feels a little more rural.”

The livability of Canby is a major attraction for large employers, Sieber noted. Though it’s impossible to be more specific without having a final end-user in mind, Canby South is designed to accommodate two shifts of approximately 300 employees each.

“The ability to attract employees is a huge draw for your area,” Sieber said. “You look at Columbia Distributing — that’s one of the big things that attracted them here. The utilities and other costs in the industrial park are very good compared to some of the other places in the Portland metro area.”

Columbia Distributing’s new beverage warehouse and distribution facility in Canby, which spans 530,000 square feet, with two possible future expansions of 112,000 square feet each.

Of course, with all of those jobs comes lots of traffic.

“This site will have a tremendous amount of traffic associated with it, both autos and truck trailers with the nature of industrial users that we see today,” Sieber said. “We have compared it to Columbia Distributing in that regard. We do think it’s going to be very similar.”

(Prior to its construction, traffic engineers contracted by Columbia Distributing estimated the project would funnel an additional 1,600 daily vehicle trips onto area roads.)

Neighboring property owners who took place in the meeting expressed deep reservations about the impact the project would have on their quality of life in terms of noise, lighting and adding hundreds of trucks and other vehicles onto roads already struggling to handle their current traffic loads.

“Would you want to live across from this?” asked a resident who lives across the street on Township, which is expected to be the property’s main ingress and egress. “It sounds like the light pollution and traffic are going to be a nightmare.”

“We moved here from Sherwood a couple of years ago to escape all the development,” her husband agreed. “I guess we moved to the wrong place.”

Whoever the end-user or tenant is at Canby South, Sieber said he does expect they will apply for inclusion in the county’s Strategic Investment Zone, a state-managed incentive that allows a 15-year property tax discount for developments valued at more than $25 million.

“Ultimately, it’s at their discretion, but it’s highly likely,” Sieber said. “That’s another benefit of being in the Canby industrial park.”

Columbia Distributing, the only company to have previously applied for the Clackamas County Rural SIZ, ran into some trouble with its application due to timing and other eligibility questions related to the date they actually began construction — though Business Oregon ultimately approved the tax break.

Following that decision, the economic development agency in August passed an amendment to the SIZ program “cleaning up” the state’s definition of existing property for future applications.

Sieber said developers would like to begin construction by the fall of 2021, though that will depend on the city’s approval process. He anticipated construction would take 15 to 18 months, and the prospects they have engaged with are all targeting occupancy dates in early 2023.

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