Specht property approved for annexation into Woodburn
In a unanimous vote on Dec. 11, the Woodburn City Council approved the annexation application of the 108-acre tract of industrial land known as the Specht property. The Woodburn Planning Commission had recommended the approval of the annexation application at its Oct. 12 meeting.
The 108-acre parcel situated just east of Butteville Road and south of Highway 219 (adjacent to the Winco Foods Distribution Center) was added to the city's Urban Growth Boundary following a decade-long legal battle that ended in late 2015.
The land is currently vacant farm land. Its nickname comes from Specht Properties, the development company that submitted the applications to the city.
According to the Specht Properties website, the property will likely accommodate up to 2 million square feet of industrial space.
The applications approved by the council included annexation, a plan designation, rezoning, a Riparian Corridor and Wetlands Overlay District permit, and a Southwest Industrial Reserve Master Plan approval, things that will "better prepare the site for development at a later time," according to the staff report submitted to the Woodburn Planning Commission.
According to Greg Specht, the developer who submitted the applications, it's not clear what exactly will be developed on the land.
"We've had a couple of prospects who have come our way over the past two years, one a very large building with not a lot of employees, one a very large building with a lot of employees. And we were not able to land either of them here in Woodburn," Specht said at the City Council meeting.
However, Specht said as the supply of industrial land in the Portland and Salem metropolitan area continues to shrink, interest in the property — especially now that it will be annexed into the city — will increase.
"The land in question before you tonight is immediately adjacent to a newly renovated off-ramp. It's a beautiful piece of turf. There are very few competitive sites in the region that can compare with this land," Specht said. "While we have no prospects in hand, we feel very positive about the opportunities in front of us, once this plan is annexed with the master plan approved."
The approval of the applications by the City Council doesn't indicate the land will be developed anytime soon, but it could make it more attractive to developers. And the approval marks a victory for the city of Woodburn, which fought organizations like the Thousand Friends of Oregon for years to include farmable land like the Specht property in its Urban Growth Boundary and in its Southwest Industrial Reserve area.
That victory was expressed at the meeting by city councilors, including Lisa Ellsworth, who said after the votes were done that a celebration was in order.
"After all that, I think we should have some balloons and some fanfare, or something coming down from the ceiling," she said.