Last one will launch in 2017, but leasing will remain.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP:  - A new barge from Zidell Marine Corp hits the water while tugs wait to push it into place against the Zidell dock in October 15, 2003. Zidell is getting out of the barge building business and plans to redevelop more of its 33 acre site.

Zidell Marine Corporation is quitting the barge building business, it announced Wednesday. The 50-year-old company, sited on prime real estate next to OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing, said its current barge, Hull 686, is the final one, due in 2Q 2017, The Portland Business Journal first reported.

ZMC will still lease barges. 60 staff are expected to be “impacted” by the changes. They will be redeployed in cleanup or helped find other jobs, ZMC president Jay Zidell said in an email to employees.

The company will have a retention program to “provide a smooth transition into employment in related fields as jobs phase out here."

His message continued, “Over the past years at similar SOC (state of the company) meetings I have, from time to time, been asked the question about how long we would continue to build barges at this location and I have consistently responded that as long as there were customers that wanted us to we would continue to do so.”

That all changed Wednesday when he could no longer hold off the “rumor mill" as he called it.

According to the company website, “the Zidell family’s 33-acre riverfront property is the largest undeveloped site in the city. For generations the land has been home to the family’s industrial businesses. Now, after extensive environmental restoration, the site is prepared for redevelopment.”

Hull 686 is due in 2Q 2017.

Founder Emery Zidell was one of the first to use scrapped ship steel instead of wood to build barges for the rough work of moving sand and gravel, lumber, grain, chemicals, petroleum products and wood chips around the world.

As well as its leasing business, the company also runs Tube Forgings of America, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of precision welding fittings. “TFA’s elbow and tee-shaped fittings are used as connecting points in oil, chemical and power companies pipelines, as well as in water treatment, automobile plants and high-rise buildings,” says the site.

Part of the surrounding site has housed street markets and food events in recent years, but as the Southwaterfront real estate market has become viable again, the pressure to develop it for has increased, especially with the opening of the Tilikum Crossing in 2015.