By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

For the first time in almost a decade, the city of Bend has made a sale at Juniper Ridge.

Last week, the Bend City Council announced it had completed the sale of a 4.5-acre lot at the northeast Bend industrial park for $1.04 million to DeSpaltro Enterprises LLC. The company operates a printing and bulk mailing service in Bend, BMS Technologies.

Deschutes County gave the 1,500-acre Juniper Ridge property to the city in 1990, but the city has had little success developing the area.

At one point the city had a conceptual plan for the entire Juniper Ridge area, including a business park, shopping areas, hundreds of homes, parks, trails and a university. That plan was shelved when the 2007 recession hit, and the city’s last sale closed in 2010.

Since then, the corner of the property inside the urban growth boundary and ready for development has been marketed as an industrial park, with the city seeking to attract high technology businesses to locate there.

Les Schwab’s headquarters are at Juniper Ridge. Pacific Power has a facility there, as does Suterra Corporation, a pesticide manufacturer. However, interest in the area has been only lukewarm for years, according to assistant city manger Jon Skidmore, part of a regionwide slump for industrial properties.

With the sale to DeSpaltro complete, the city has six lots ready to build at Juniper Ridge, already serviced by existing roads and utility lines.

Skidmore said the city is in negotiations with another potential buyer and has been approached by others interested in the properties in recent months.

Also last week, the City Council approved a change in policy intended to streamline the process of selling those lots.

Previously, any sale had to be considered by the council in an open public hearing. With the change, the city’s listing broker will be able to brief the council on any offers in a closed-door executive session, with the council authorizing the broker to negotiate prices within a given range. If the broker can negotiate an acceptable offer, the council could then authorize city staff to execute the sale.

Most of the remaining property beyond the seven lots currently for sale would require new roads and utility lines before it could be developed. The lack of urban services has stymied the city’s efforts to market the property to developers. OSU-Cascades declined the city’s offer of free land for a campus, believing it would cost more for the university to bring roads and utilities to the property than to develop the west-side sites it eventually bought. The university paid $5 million for its initial 10-acre campus and nearly $8 million for the adjoining, not-yet-developed former pumice mine.

Skidmore said the city has had sporadic interest in the Juniper Ridge properties in recent years, in many cases from companies interested in parcels larger than those already prepared for development by the city.

The increased interest in the available lots at Juniper Ridge is likely the result of a tightening market for industrial property in Bend, Skidmore said. With fewer properties available and lease rates ticking upward, buying a site and building a new building is a more viable option, he said.

Skidmore said the city’s intention is to use the proceeds from any sales at Juniper Ridge to continue developing the road and utilities network in the area, creating more developable lots over time.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

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