Rural Industrial Property in Lane County

I remember the days of the mills’ hard-working saws piercing the air of the Mohawk Valley.  Not long ago, when it was warm and your windows were open, you could hear the saws’ whine in the night.  Now, but for an occasional car, or lonely coyote’s wail, the night is quiet.

The disappearance of saw mills isn’t unique to the Mohawk Valley.  It has been happening all across Oregon, with the peak number of mills after World War II at over 1500, fewer than 80 mills remain today, statewide.  In the boom years, lumber and related industries made up more than 10% of Oregon’s economy; there were over 70,000 well-paying jobs, and families could have a good life with a single wage earner.  When I was a kid you could earn $15/hr. at many of the mills around Eugene Springfield.  Advance  the clock forward to now and I’m not so sure you can easily find those $15/hour jobs, and things are much more expensive.  Now there are only 25,000 timber and mill jobs left in Oregon, and the pay is merely average.

Weyerhauser’s 21 mile private railroad ran through the Mohawk Valley, starting at the mill off 42nd street and terminating in the former town of Wendling, east of Marcola.  Remnants remain of the old railroad that was last used in 1987.  Across from the Riverview Market on Marcola Road, Hayden Bridge has stood since about 1900, when it was moved from Utah.  It’s hard to imagine moving a giant bridge that long ago, but I guess our ancestors were ingenuitive–people were still using horses for transportation back then.  The bridge, while historical, has fallen into disuse.  Occasionally, when it’s hot out, you’ll still find local kids using it as a diving platform for the chilly McKenzie River beneath.  You can also spot the above-grade gravel railroad bed running through the Mohawk Valley if you look carefully.

Hayden Bridge was moved here from Utah in 1901.

Hayden Bridge was moved here from Utah in 1901.

This forlorn mill site in the Mohawk Valley is one victim of our recent economic downturn.  The buildings have stood for a long time and how much of their lumber went into the building of our great state, no one will ever know.  Most recently, for 20 years until 2007, it gobbled up peeler cores and transformed them into studs, posts, and stakes.

Old mill site in the Mohawk Valley, Oregon

The area where the Mill sits, off Old Mohawk Road, was previously called Yarnell, being named after one of the early owners of surrounding land.  Yarnell now exists only as a reference on historic maps.  The Mohawk River was the original method of getting logs to mills.  Subsequently, Southern Pacific and later Weyerhaeuser, used to run log trains regularly, and there was a siding and spur near the mill site.  Sidings are a parallel set of tracks which allow trains to pass, and spurs are a dead-end set of tracks serving a facility.  Old maps also show two log ponds to the east of the mill, but they are now filled.  Operating mills rarely use log ponds any more, but in the past they were used to store, clean, and move logs; newer technologies make ponds no longer necessary.

Yarnell had a covered train bridge, crossing the Mohawk River, built in presumably the late 1800’s.  Weyerhaeuser is thought to have removed the cover and rebuilt the bridge around 1961.  Remnants of the old bridge remain, but are on private property.  The main automobile bridge was also covered at one time.  This bridge stood from 1916 to 1958 and has been replaced by a modern structure

Near where Old Mohawk Road now runs.  Looking north towards Coburg Hills.  Ca. 1910

Near where Old Mohawk Road now runs. Looking north towards Coburg Hills. Ca. 1910

Interestingly, there’s a very long history of lumber milling in the Mohawk Valley.  The image is from the first survey done in the area, in 1855.  Present at that time was a mill race, dug from the McKenzie River, servicing the old Scott Mill.  Little record remains of the Scott Mill, but presumably it was fed by logs floated down the McKenzie or dragged by oxen down the Mohawk Valley.  Part of the main channel of the river appears to have changed to the old mill race and can be seen here.

1855 survey of the Mohawk Valley, Oregon, showing mill race.  (Emphasis added.)

1855 survey of the Mohawk Valley, Oregon, showing mill race. (Emphasis added.)

Mill sites are the most common uses in RI zoning, Rural Industrial, which is fairly rare.  RI zoning allows for industrial uses and pursuits in otherwise country type property.  Some of these old properties are distressed or industrial/commercial short sales, which is also uncommon.  I have done commercial short sales and they have their own unique process that’s different from residential short sales.  Short sales occur when the sales proceeds are short of (less than) the required amount to pay off the bank loan(s).

As with any industrial or commercial real estate purchase, previous uses are important.  If a lender is involved, the buyer will almost certainly need a level one or level two environmental report, and they’re a good idea even if there is no lender.  Environmental Site Assessments are common and give you a base-line idea of what went on.

Determining value on industrial properties can be a challenge.  It likely will have the most value to an owner-occupant.  Uses that require zoning changes are difficult in Lane County, which means the highest and best use is likely similar to its previous use.  Appraisers will arrive at a value by reconciling the three approaches to valuation:  comps, income and replacement value, but this may be different than what an arms-length willing buyer may be willing to pay.

I, for one, hope the old mill is purchased and reopened.  People need jobs and Oregon has a lot of sustainable trees.  If you are a buyer or user of commercial or industrial property in Oregon, please contact me.

Oregon forests are sustainable.

Oregon forests are sustainable.

Dowtown Springfield Oregon

Downtown Springfield the new hotspot?  Maybe so.

Commercial property is interesting.  Changes in rules & regulations or changes in traffic patterns can make the once lively die; or the slow and out of the way into the next hot spot.  At one point in time, Sixth and Seventh streets in Eugene were part of Highway 99 which ran from Mexico to Canada.  Properties along those streets were prime real estate, but that began to decline with the construction of I-5 in the early 1960’s when much north-south traffic bypassed Eugene entirely.

Similarly, the downtown core area of Springfield used to be the center of town and the most desirable place to be, but this was decades ago.  What started the decline isn’t precisely clear, but increased ease of transportation and building of satellite shopping centers or malls didn’t help downtowns.  At one point in time, downtown Springfield was the Gateway Mall of its day, and when I grew up here, the Gateway area was merely wet grasslands, laying fallow, bathed by the noise and exhaust of I-5.  Time shows us nothing if not that things change.  Gateway is hot.  Downtown Springfield is on its way back up.

Mayor Christine Lundberg in her 2013 state of the City speech was very positive on Springfield’s possibilities and progress.  She even joked that she’s looking forward to having a Logger Lager at the soon to be opened Planktown Brewery.

Probably the start of the Wildish Theater project in 2001 marked the beginning of Springfield’s renaissance.  The 284 seat theater took 5 years to complete at a cost of some 3.2 million dollars.  LTD opened it’s highly visible and cool looking transit facility in 2004, which gave the area a further boost.

Jim's Landing in Springfield is awaiting a new use

Jim’s Landing in Springfield is awaiting a new tenant

Three downtown bars had their liquor licenses pulled and closed in 2010, which was said to improve things.  One of the bars, Jim’s landing, had been in business since 1934 and there was always a bar in that location since the construction of the Fry and Rankin building in 1911.  There was also a real estate office in the same building–hmm–sounds like a good idea to me.  Neither I nor anyone I know thinks the closing of Jim’s Landing was a good idea.  However, the area is on its way up, even if the wheels of progress are sometimes indiscriminate on what they roll over.  The spot is for lease, and I’d be glad to show it to you if you have interest.

Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon

Washburne Cafe in Springfield, Oregon

The Washburne Cafe opened kitty-corner to Jim’s Landing in 2010.  The brainchild of Karen Hageman, a longtime area builder, it has a cool urban feel to it.  I had breakfast there this morning  and will definitely come back.  The building was originally the Springfield Armory, built about 1921.

The Plank Town Brewery is a couple of doors down from The Washburne.  The target opening date was last Fall, but they seem to be running a little behind.  Plank Town is on the ground floor of the IOOF Building, which was built in 1907 for $10,995.  The Oddfellows still occupy the second floor.

Planktown Brewery, Springfield, Oregon

Plank Town Brewery, Springfield, Oregon

Is this the genesis of the next Barmuda Triangle or Whitaker?  Time will tell, but Downtown Springfield is on its way up.

Historic Oddfellows Building, Springfield, Oregon

Historic Oddfellows Building, Springfield, Oregon

Commercial lot for sale: Marcola Oregon

92166 Lot for sale in Marcola Oregon

92166 Marcola Road:  Lot for sale in Marcola Oregon

This lot in the town of Marcola, Oregon is a listing of mine.  Marcola is in the Mohawk Valley about 10 miles from Springfield.  Not surprisingly, you take Marcola Road to get there.  The lot has an interesting and unusual zoning:  RC.  RC zoning is Rural Commercial, which allows for commercial development (stores, business and the like) in areas outside of an Urban Growth Boundary, which describes Marcola.

In days gone by, Marcola, Wendling, and Mabel were bustling communities with hundreds, if not thousands, of residents.  There were several operating lumber mills and other ancillary businesses.  Mabel and Wendling are gone, and remain but as spots on a map.  Marcola is still here but mostly as a bedroom community of Eugene, Springfield or Sweethome.  With our higher gasoline prices, people drive less and perhaps it’s time for a renaissance of commercial activity in bedroom communities.

The town of Marcola is close to the very popular Shotgun Creek BLM area and the shooting range on McGowan Creek Road.  The address for the commercial lot for sale is: 92166 Marcola Road, and the MLS number is:  13651566.  If you’d like more information, please contact me.

Commercial and Investment Realtors

The Lane County CID (Commercial and Investment Division) realtors held their annual Christmas Party at the DAC. About 75 revelers attended. The evening was MC’d by Brent McLean, CID’s current President. Special toasts were given by Ken Kime, Dick Sage, and Mike O’Connel, Sr.

CID is a group of about 100 Eugene-area realtors, lenders, design professionals, and agencies devoted to the sale, purchase, lease and development of industrial, income, and commercial properties.

President McLean said it best when describing the group: “This is the one group of realtors you can bring a customer to and not worry about other agents poaching them–there’s always a spirit of helping, combined with a can-do attitude of problem solving and getting things done.”

President Brent McLean

President Brent McLean