Home Back Issues September 2010 Turning old mills into new money

Turning old mills into new money

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
0910_ATS13
The Old Mill District in Bend started the redevelopment trend of turning defunct mills into shopping and entertainment centers.  // PHOTO COURTESY OF OLD MILL DISTRICT

The old Bright Wood lumber mill in Bend is the latest former mill to be redeveloped into something completely different. Gone are the blue-collar jobs, replaced by a fitness studio, a salon and a coffee shop. It’s the third former mill site in Bend to be reinvented in this manner, and developers and public officials are entertaining similar plans all over Oregon.

At the height of the timber industry there were 278 lumber mills in Douglas County alone. But the industry has lost more than half of its jobs over the past two decades, leaving many municipalities with large swaths of vacant land. Bend led the trend toward redevelopment with the Old Mill District, a diversified hub with more jobs now than in the old days.

But Bend is the exception. Nearby Prineville has made little headway on a  similar proposal to redevelop the former Ochoco mill for shopping and restaurants. Progress has been similarly slow in Oakridge, where the former Pope and Talbot mill site sits vacant, with 64 developable acres available for industrial use at a rock-bottom $30,000 per acre.

Other mill sites have redeveloped with success, only to be upended by the economy. Mill Pond Village in Astoria replaced a shuttered mill with waterfront homes, but the area is riddled with foreclosures.

The most ambitious redevelopment on the horizon is the Croman Mill plan in Ashland, a 99-acre project calling for offices, light industrial businesses, and retail and commercial space. The projected 1,900 jobs from a 2008 report are looking a bit overly optimistic after two years of recession, but at least one growing Ashland business, medical software firm Plexis, is considering expanding there.

Still, for every Croman Mill or Bright Wood facelift, a dozen former mills sit vacant. “They’re tremendous producers of weeds,” says Oakridge city administrator Gordon Zimmerman.

BEN JACKLET
 

Comments   

 
Ray Doering
0 #1 A converted mill success in North BendRay Doering 2010-09-20 15:37:19
Here is another example of turning an old mill into new money. In 1995, the Coquille Indian Tribe converted the abandoned Sun plywood mill on the banks of Coos Bay into The Mill Casino. Fifteen years later, The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park funds tribal government programs and provides employment for over 500 area residents.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

October surprise

News
Sunday, October 12, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER

Cylvia Hayes, tabloid vs. watchdog journalism and the looming threat of a Cascadia earthquake.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nick Herinckx, CEO of Obility, and Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID, share what they've been reading.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS