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Nike expansion will have a ripple effect

Local, regional, state economies likely to reap the benefits


Nike’s planned expansion should boost 45 Degrees Central, the new 26-acre residential and commercial center rising at the intersection of Southwest Murray Boulevard and Jenkins Road in Beaverton.

When the Metropolitan Land Group first began planning the 360-unit project several years ago, they did not know that Nike would significantly increase employment at its nearby World Headquarters campus. But some of Nike’s new workers are likely to be tempted by the urban-style project. It will offer a mix of contemporary houses, condos, restaurants, athletic facilities, eateries, parks and trails — all within easy walking distance to the two new buildings Nike has announced it will build.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from Nike employees and have made several sales to them. I was just thrilled when I heard the company was expanding so close to us,” says Megan Talalemoto, sales manager for the Crandall Group, which is marketing the homes.

Such spin-off benefits are one reason why officials in Beaverton, Washington County and Portland competed for the project. For the record, elected leaders in the communities all say the region wins no matter where Nike expands. But, as demonstrated by the potential sales at 45 Degrees Central, there are local benefits, too. They include additional property taxes Nike will pay on the buildings and land improvements.

“There are ancillary benefits that are important to the morale of the county,” says an insider, who asked not to be identified.

The full extent of those benefits have yet to be revealed, however. Much has yet to be learned about the expansion Nike officials announced last week. The company has released few specifics about its plans. And officials in Beaverton, Washington County and Portland are still adhering to the nondisclosure agreements they signed with Nike earlier.

It is widely known that Nike looked at two sites for its expansion. One was property it already owned on and near its World Headquarters campus near Beaverton. The other was a parcel in Portland’s emerging South Waterfront neighborhood along the west bank of the Willamette River. The company chose to expand its existing headquarters.

In a rare departure from common economic development practices, however, Nike apparently did not choose the highest bidder. Both properties are within enterprise zones, which allow the additional property taxes to be excused for three to five years. Nike has not yet said whether it will take advantage of that tax break.

But the Portland parcel is also within an urban renewal district, which would have allowed the city to tap other property tax dollars in the area to benefit Nike. In fact, published reports say Portland officials had discussed investing $80 million in new streets, parks and other amenities to attract the company. Such money is not available to Beaverton and Washington County officials.

In fact, Nike may end up paying for some or all of the road improvements to serve the expansion. The Washington County Commission is allowing Nike to expand its campus to include property the company owns where one of the new buildings will be constructed. But no agreement has yet been announced on who will pay to reroute the roads within the expansion area.

Nike officials would not say why they chose the Washington County site over the Portland one. Company spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi would only say it was the “best fit” for Nike.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish thinks Nike will eventually create jobs in Portland, saying that is where many of the company’s designers want to work.

“I think we’re going to be back in play,” says Fish.

Bill OKs state, Nike contract

Nike announced its expansion decision in a news release issued last Thursday. It followed months of speculation that began when Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber called a special session of the Legislature in December. During the one-day gathering at the state Capitol, lawmakers passed a bill allowing the governor to enter into a contract with Nike guaranteeing its current tax structure for 30 years if the company invests at least $150 million and creates at least 500 new jobs in the state within five years.

“Nike is a growth company with a long history in Oregon, and we look forward to continuing to grow here,” Nike President Mark Parker said in the April 18 release. “We would like to thank Gov. Kitzhaber and officials from the state, the cities of Portland and Beaverton, and Multnomah and Washington counties for working with us to expedite and support the proposed design, planning and building of the expansion of our headquarters. We look forward to continued partnerships as we work together to bring this important project to life in Oregon.”

During the session, Nike officials testified that the company needs to expand to cope with the dramatic growth it is experiencing. Since 2007, Nike’s employment in Oregon has grown by nearly 60 percent. More than 8,000 Nike employees and contract workers are employed at its headquarters off Murray and Jenkins.

Shortly after the announcement, Nike officials confirmed two locations for the new buildings. One is on their existing campus near the Tiger Woods Conference Center. The other is on vacant property owned by the company east of the intersection of Southwest 158th Avenue and Jenkins Road. This building will be located near the C. Vivian Stringer Child Development Center. Work could begin in late summer or early fall.

Much is still unknown about those two buildings, including how large they will be or how many employees they will accommodate. Although the bill approved by the special session set the minimum number of new jobs at 500, Nike officials strongly suggested the company needs to hire thousands of additional workers in the near future to meet its needs.

The buildings are likely to be the tallest in the area. Nike purchased the vacant property a few years ago from Sequent Computer Systems. A master plan approved by the county for that company set the maximum building height at 80 feet — the same limitation as the Nike campus. But, at Nike’s request, the Washington County Commission just raised the limitation to 110 feet. Nike has not yet said whether the two buildings will be that tall, however.

Despite the unanswered questions, Nike’s announcement was praised by federal, state and local officials.

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a 1st Congressional District Democrat who lives in Beaverton, said she was thrilled with Nike’s decision to expand in Washington County.

Kitzhaber said Nike’s decision was “great news for Oregon.”

“Nike’s announcement is a testament to our decisive action in December to boost the state’s economy and benefit all Oregonians.”

Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck spread the credit around.

“While this announcement is great for Washington County, it is also a huge boon to the state of Oregon. It has really been a collaborative effort over many months to bring us to this point,” Duyck said.

Even Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was a good sport.

“I’m proud of the effort our team put together. And I’m thrilled that the project, and the jobs, are staying in the metropolitan area,” Hales said.