The Benaroya Industrial Site near Winlock has yet to obtain a tenant, but the city is moving forward with efforts to make the site more attractive to companies.
“(Interest) kind of comes and goes,” said Matt Matayoshi, executive director of Lewis Economic Development Council. “I think when we have all the infrastructure the site will be more attractive.”
The Benaroya Pacific Northwest Logistics Center is a 320-acre industrialized zone, with lots available for sale or lease. The Benaroya Company is also willing to build buildings for sale or lease on the site.
The City of Winlock is currently constructing a waterline extension along state Route 505 that will bring water to the industrial site. Winlock began constructing the waterline two weeks ago and Matayoshi said the entire project is set to take 60 days.
“They have all the funding for the waterline and that will be constructed all the way to I-5,” Matayoshi said. “... We’re excited to see it begin construction and that it’s going all the way out to the freeway, too.”
Winlock has $1.5 million in state funding for the project. Winlock Mayor Don Bradshaw said the most important part of the extension is to Knowles Road, which is just before the Shell Station at exit 63. Bradshaw said the waterline will extend all the way to the freeway if there is enough funding and that the city is currently under budget.
In addition to the waterline, Bradshaw said the city is placing conduit in the ground during the waterline construction for broadband internet.
“I think everybody that has a brain realizes that broadband is the key to the future,” Bradshaw said. “... The first question everyone will ask is ‘Do you have internet?”
ToledoTel is supplying the conduit and the conduit trailer, then reimbursing the city of Winlock for the wages of employees that place the conduit.
“If you have hole in the ground, you should put conduit in it,” said ToledoTel sales engineer Fred Ryder. “It’s the city that is doing the job and we are assisting them in doing that.”
Ryder said the conduit will belong to ToledoTel, and the company plans to supply fiber later on.
“We partnered with the city to help out and help the development,” Ryder said. “We’ve got a little skin in the game but not a lot.”
ToledoTel chief operating officer Dale Merten was not available for comment.
Overall, Bradshaw has a three-year plan to bring utilities to the site. The plan is to bring water the first year, build a road to the industrial site the second year and bring sewer the third year.
He is currently working to obtain funding for both a road to the industrial site and sewer. Bradshaw estimates that it will cost between $3 million and $3.5 million to construct the road. He estimates the sewer will cost $2 million.
Currently, semi trucks would have to use North Military Road to access the industrial site, which runs by the middle school and high school. The new road Bradshaw plans to construct — Michelsen Parkway — would provide direct access to the Benaroya site for truck traffic. Michelsen Parkway would connect to state Route 505 and be an extension of Knowles Road, which is less than half a mile from I-5.
“The community said they don’t want truck traffic going by the high school,” Matayoshi said. “Michelsen Parkway will run parallel to North Military and then provide direct access.”
Bradshaw has been asking local legislators for the $5.5 million total from the capital budget, which is essentially the state’s budget for infrastructure.
“I’ve met with everybody,” Bradshaw said. “Let’s see what they give me in the capital budget after the legislature meets and puts their budget out.”
Benaroya Company is based in Bellevue and purchased the site in 2006. After years of efforts to move the project forward, the company attempted to sell the property in 2015. The opening bid was $2.5 million, but the property did not sell. Benaroya Company Manager Larry Benaroya did not respond to request for comment.
“Under Don’s leadership, things are getting done,” Matayoshi said. “The waterline is going forward. The idea has been there for a long time and he is leading the effort. … It’s one of those things where, if you build it, they will come. … If you don’t build it, you’re less likely to get someone to come in — you have to invest for the future.”