Portland Community College's proposed training facility in Scappoose has hit a roadblock as the property sale fell through.
SPB Holdings LLC, owner of the 17-acre lot where PCC planned to build its facility, has backed out of the sale, leaving college officials to find another location for manufacturing apprenticeship programs.
PCC targeted the site in part due to its close proximity to the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center Research & Development campus near Scappoose Industrial Airpark.
"PCC remains committed to building the workforce training center in Columbia County and believes that this location puts the training center and the OMIC initiative in the best position to succeed," a spokesperson for PCC stated in an email. When asked, the spokesperson said PCC was committed to building in Scappoose, rather than elsewhere in the county.
PCC planned to invest $24 million to construct a 31,000-square-foot facility on Wagner Court, across West Lane Road from the OMIC R&D campus. The college planned to offer manufacturing apprenticeship programs at the campus, working closely with OMIC R&D.
Linda Degman, director of the bond program that is funding the construction, said earlier this year that construction would hopefully begin by late summer or early fall, with the facility opening for classes in fall 2020. When PCC officials first announced they had begun negotiations for the property last October, a press release stated they expected to begin construction this summer.
Around Aug. 20, PCC found out SPB Holdings was backing out of the deal.
SPB Holdings is registered to Oregon Aero Inc. founders, Mike and Judith Dennis, according to state records. Oregon Aero is an aeronautical-focused product design company located at Scappoose Industrial Airpark.
On Monday, a PCC spokesperson said the leadership would have much more information in the coming weeks as the college works with counsel.
"They have to start from scratch," said Scappoose City Planner Laurie Oliver.
Once PCC planners identify a new plot of land for the facility, they'll have to reconvene consultants to prepare the land use package for the city. That could take at least three to four months, Oliver explained. After the city receives the full land use application, it will take at least two months for staff review and planning commission approval. Next, PCC will need to submit construction documents, which would take an additional four to six weeks of city review.
That means it will likely be spring before construction can begin, even if the college quickly finds a new location and the planning process goes smoothly.
The city's planning commission approved a land use permit for PCC in May. Prior to receiving the land use permit, PCC representatives had said they had signed agreements with the current property owner to purchase the property if the permit was approved.
But since planning commission approval, PCC did not reach a finalized sale nor submit construction documents to the city.
"While PCC seeks counsel on next steps, the college will continue to have a presence in Columbia County," the PCC spokesperson wrote, mentioning the welding classes currently offered in the evenings at St. Helens High School, machining courses for Scappoose High School students, and an adult basic education reading and writing course in evenings at the St. Helens WorkSource location.
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