City, company agreed to $3 per square foot; property area has not been officially determined

by: MARK MILLER - St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh, right, and waterfront project steering committee member John Brewington, left, at a vantage point along Strand Street overlooking the Boise Cascade Co. veneer plant property Tuesday, Feb. 18. The parcel of land is located along the Columbia River, just south of Old Town St. Helens.The city of St. Helens released a copy of its signed agreement with Boise Cascade Co. for the sale and purchase of the former veneer plant property south of Old Town St. Helens Thursday, Feb. 20.

The purchase and sale agreement, which was released in response to a public records request from the Spotlight, states the agreed-upon purchase price of the property at $3 per square foot of land above the high-water mark. The property, which Columbia County assesses at 16.9 acres, hugs the west bank of the Columbia River in south St. Helens.

City Administrator John Walsh said a “land survey effort” in the near future will give St. Helens a more precise idea of the property’s size; he has suggested the property may be larger than the county assessment indicates. But if the area is 16.9 acres of land above the high-water line, the purchase price for the entire property would be about $2.21 million.

“The price may be further influenced by negotiations with the findings and resolution of the forthcoming environmental investigation,” Walsh added in his email to the Spotlight Thursday.

The agreement provides for part or all of the purchase of the property to be paid in timber harvest rights.

Of the arrangement, Walsh explained, “We’re trading trees for land.”

Just as the purchase price is not yet final, the St. Helens City Council has yet to decide how it will finance the transaction, Walsh said.

St. Helens Mayor Randy Peterson said the purchase of the property may be financed by a “combination” of timber and the possible sale of municipal bonds.

“We’re still proceeding down the road to purchase, and there’s still a little bit of work left to do,” Peterson said. He said he expects the purchase of the property to be final by the end of the year.

The seller identified in the agreement is Boise Cascade Wood Products LLC, a division of Boise Cascade Co.

The Idaho-based company is a descendant of the old Boise Cascade Corp. Another descendant, Boise Inc., owns the paper mill southwest of the veneer plant site. The latter company was purchased by Illinois-based Packaging Corp. of America last fall.

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