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Port of Columbia County commissioners weigh benefits of buying Oregon Aero building with lease-back agreement

To buy or not to buy. That's the $1 million question being mulled over by Port of Columbia County commissioners as they consider whether to buy an industrial building in Scappoose.

After nearly two hours of discussion Wednesday, Jan. 9, much of which occurred in closed executive session, commissioners opted to table a vote on whether to buy a building owned by Oregon Aero for about $1 million. If the sale advances, the port would own the nearly 14,000-square-foot building on port-owned land at Scappoose Industrial Airpark. The port would then lease the industrial building back to Oregon

Aero.

The purchase and lease-back agreement would give the port an extra industrial property while allowing the manufacturing company to pay off debt it owes to the port for lease contracts on two other Scappoose buildings.

If the port goes through with the sale, it will end up paying about $637,000 with the remainder of the purchase price paid by Oregon Aero to make up for past-due rent.

After lengthy discussions with representatives from Oregon Aero and separate talks with staff and an attorney, commissioners were almost convinced that the deal made sense for the port district, but Commissioners Chris Iverson and Larry Ericksen said they preferred to review appraisals further before making any decisions.

Iverson said he didn't want to be "rushed" into making any purchasing decisions, saying he wanted to confer with appraisers about the building's value. Ericksen hinted at sticker shock, saying he also wanted to tour the site first.

"I'm just a little uncomfortable with the $1 million price tag, to be real honest with you," Ericksen said. "I just haven't had time to process that. I just need to satisfy myself that we're not over-paying."

Commissioners are expected to discuss the Oregon Aero sale again during the next regular meeting on Jan. 23, unless a special meeting is called before then.

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