Expert says Sportcraft Landing should be paying at least three times previous rent payments

COURTESY MAP: CITY OF OC - An appraiser for Oregon City has identified Sportcraft Landing marina's land as now worth $1.37 million.Oregon City should at least triple rent charges to Sportcraft Landing marina for using prime riverfront property, according to a recent appraisal.

Sportcraft had been paying about $24,000 annually to the city since 2013 and stopped paying anything when the last lease expired in June 2020. Sportcraft should be paying about $76,000 annually in rent, according to certified Oregon appraiser Ryan S. Prusse, who cited recent renovations in downtown OC and plans for more development nearby as contributing factors for a jump in area property values making Sportscraft's land estimated to be now worth $1.37 million.

City officials said that OC has an obligation to all its citizens to receive fair value for the Sportcraft's lease of city property, a value they say was determined by the appraisal. Meanwhile, state officials recently filed a lawsuit against both Sportscraft and the city asking a Clackamas County Circuit Court judge to grant ODOT eminent domain to complete the widening of the bridge to three lanes in both directions.

Even if the city and Sportcraft remain at an impasse on renewing the marina's lease, the Oregon attorney general's filing in court could prevent delays in the highway project. Regardless of the lease renewal, condemnation will ensure that ODOT officials will have the property they need by the time the main portion of the I-205 project starts in 2022, an Oregon City spokesperson said.

As it moves forward on the highway project, ODOT is removing trees on both banks of the Willamette River underneath the Abernethy Bridge in Oregon City and West Linn to prepare the site for construction access for the bridge contractor. Officials said this work needs to occur before construction begins in 2022 to avoid nesting birds and heavy rain. Trees will be replanted at the end of construction.

Oregon City also publicly released a copy of its lease for submersible land with the Oregon's Department of State Lands, showing that the city is on the hook for paying state officials $2,878 in annual rent through 2034; meanwhile, the city has received no Willamette River rental reimbursements from the marina.

PMG FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Long-term impacts on West Bridge Park from the construction on Abernethy Bridge is expected to be minimal, according to West Linn officials.Sportcraft owner Eric Dye said he expects that he will have to backpay the higher lease amount to June 2020 and said that he's currently negotiating with the city to work out other details on a new contract.

"They think that the downtown and the mill property is raising the value of the parking lot we lease," Dye said. "We do offer a beneficial service for the city and its citizens, and I don't think they're taking that into account.

Rivers of Life President Jerry Herrmann said he's been lobbying City Commission members to help them understand how difficult it is to operate a marina in Oregon City, even without additional impacts from the city and ODOT. Impacts from the flood of 1996 were so great that they nearly ruined the marina business, Herrmann said. The arrival of sea lions 10 years ago have put additional strain on their operations by destroying wiring, dock lighting, automatic boat pumping systems and even sinking some boats.

"If the city has new desires, then they need to be realistic, understand the dynamic of that location and make their wishes known," Herrmann said.

Oregon City's appraiser agreed that the land has public value, but he added that the property has increased revenues for its private marina owners. The COVID-19 pandemic has had "collateral benefits to the recreation and specifically the boating/moorage industry in the form of increased demand," Prusse said, since these outdoor activities support social distancing.

"We conclude that the highest and best use of the improved (marina) property is the existing public ownership and administration, with at least retention of the current parking, boat launch, fueling and moorage capacity," Prusse said. "On an 'as is' basis, the subject property has the potential to draw significant interest from market participants via lease, sale, or build-to-suit lease agreement."PMG FILE PHOTO - A sea lion rests on a boat dock at Sportcraft Marina in Oregon City while anglers fish for spring chinook.

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