The first two phases of the Centralia Station project — a development off of Mellen Street that features WinCo as its anchor tenant — are nearing completion, according to the Port of Centralia.
The port made that declaration in a Facebook post on Thursday, Sept. 14, one day after holding a special meeting for a public hearing on declaring properties near Centralia Station as surplus. Following the public hearing, the port commissioners voted 2-1, approving a resolution declaring the properties surplus. Port of Centralia commissioners Kyle Markstrom and Julie Shaffley voted in favor of the move while Commissioner Peter Lahmann was opposed.
The Chronicle spoke to Markstrom over the phone Friday morning to ask what construction was left.
“Obviously there are supply chain issues. We’re waiting on traffic signals and stuff for the ramp,” Markstrom said. “It’s contingent on when that stuff shows up, but everything’s wrapping up as we would expect.”
WinCo Foods hasn’t provided an exact date for when the supermarket’s construction will begin.
“What I can tell you is they’re very eager to break ground,” Markstrom added.
Centralia Station is a proposed shopping center complex near the Mellen Street exit off Interstate 5 with WinCo Foods as the anchor tenant. WinCo is a warehouse-style supermarket chain that offers bulk food items and is open 24 hours a day.
The project is being carried out in three phases. The first involves readying the land and roads surrounding the project site, including the Yew Street extension, and is being carried out by the Toledo-based contractor Midway Underground.
Phase two involves building a new off-ramp and turning lane off the I-5 Mellen Street exit and is being carried out by the Kent-based contractor Scarsella Bros.
WinCo will carry out the project's final phase, which involves building the supermarket and adjacent structures, once the first two phases are complete.
As for the properties declared surplus on Wednesday, one was northeast of Centralia Station and one was northwest. Port of Centralia Executive Director Kyle Heaton explained why the port was moving to make the declaration during the public hearing.
“For us to be able to dedicate the right-of-way to the City of Centralia, as you look at exhibit A, you can see that Yew Street intersection lines up pretty well with Alder House, which is why we had to acquire it,” Heaton said on Wednesday. “The vast majority of that property will go into (the) right-of-way.”
Lahmann said he understood the need to declare the properties surplus, but had questions about the exact location of them and said the map provided was not up to date.
The port’s attorney, Ray Liaw, of Van Ness Feldman LLP, explained their location and how the properties fell into different categories of land as defined by state law.
“Some of the land that is being proposed to be surplused is actually within the industrial development district (IDD), some is not,” Liaw said.
While the land was not part of the port’s master plan, the port still owns it. Declaring the property surplus required an amendment to the port’s master plan to then incorporate it, Liaw added.
Following the end of the public hearing, Shaffley made a motion to approve a resolution declaring the properties surplus and amending the port’s master plan, which Lahmann seconded.
Before holding the actual vote, Lahmann raised other concerns. He said he felt the legal notices issued about the public hearing didn’t have enough information to let the public know what was being discussed.
Lahmann took issue with the maps provided to the commissioners as well, calling them outdated. He said he’s asked six times for a list of properties the port has for sale but has only been given a list of properties in the port’s footprint.
“I also bring up the question which I’ve brought up before: why does our master plan not reflect what we’re actually doing out there?” said Lahmann. “I cannot, in good conscience, vote for this, even though I want to surplus and sell off every piece of property we own.”
Shaffley asked for clarification as to the IDD designation of the properties and what the port could do with the property once surplused.
Heaton explained they were actually being taken out of IDD designation, meaning they wouldn’t be restricted to only industrial developments and the port could sell them to commercial or retail customers.
While the resolution still was approved by a 2-1 vote with Lahmann objecting, Markstrom voiced displeasure with the vote during Friday’s phone call as he said he feels it put the Centralia Station project in danger.
“We are able to complete our transaction with WinCo, but had it not passed, that transaction would not have been able to go forward,” Markstrom said.
The Chronicle reached out to Lahmann on Friday morning and he maintained his opposition.
“How can the public comment on this when they don’t know what it’s about?” Lahmann said on Friday.
To listen to Wednesday’s special meeting and public hearing, visit https://portofcentralia.com/documents-center/meeting-agendas-and-minutes/ and scroll down to “meeting recordings.”