The Port of Benton expects to hold onto a regional employer, and possibly create new jobs, after selling 128 acres to an aggregate mining company for $4.2 million.
It’s the largest land sale since the port formed in 1958.
Port commissioners approved the sale Wednesday to 3D Investments LLC, a subsidiary of Idaho-based Eucon Corp.
The company will use the property west of Stevens Drive and south of Battelle Boulevard to mine gravel for concrete and other construction projects in the Tri-Cities for the next 20 to 30 years.
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Another Eucon company, American Rock Products, already runs a similar operation on port property and would be part of that operation, as well.
The commissioners lauded the sale, noting that it will allow the community to keep good jobs.
Bechtel National and Tri-City Railroad have lease agreements through 2017 to use some of the property as a storage yard for construction materials for the massive vitrification plant on the Hanford site.
Commissioners had initial concerns whether the land sale would jeopardize that work. But Port officials said the railroad and Bechtel will be able to continue using the property for the next few years at least before 3D Investments moves in and allows Eucon to maintain its interest in the region, and possibly create new jobs in the process.
“This will keep them here a long time,” port Executive Director Scott Keller said.
The property is part of 768 acres in what was the 1100 Area, now known as the port’s Manufacturing Mall.
It was transferred to the port by the Department of Energy in 1998. Fourteen businesses with about 300 employees are housed in the mall, including American Rock Products, which runs an aggregate mine with a staff of about 50 people.
“If you go down there, their operation is top-notch,” Keller said.
However, that rock source will run out in about five to 10 years, Keller told the commissioners, and the company would have to leave the area without another location. That led to discussions about selling the property to 3D Investments.
Once the property is fully mined, it will be up to Eucon and its subsidiaries to reclaim the land so it can be used for other industrial or commercial purposes.
“We look forward to providing good jobs along with needed concrete and aggregate products in this community for decades to come. And the acquisition of this property is a key piece to making that happen,” Brent Chigbrow, American Rock Products’ general manager, said in a release.
The leases at the property will be transferred to 3D Investments. Port officials worked with Bechtel National to provide for its potential continued use of the property through 2026.
The railroad’s lease is up in 2017 and the port has refused offers to extend it.