Port Moves Closer To Land Lease For Major Diamond Manufacturer
The Chelan Douglas Port Authority is looking to possibly lease property near Pangborn Airport to a major manufacturer.
A warehouse company along with San Francisco based Diamond Foundry have both expressed strong interest in occupying the property in question.
Port CEO Jim Kuntz thinks Diamond Foundry would fulfill a goal of the Port to provide high paying jobs.
"They're better jobs, right," said Kuntz. "I think they're probably a little better than a warehouse worker. That doesn't mean a warehouse worker job isn't valuable, but those are $18, $19, $20 an hour jobs".
The port is moving forward to take the land in question off the market for a year to allow Diamond Foundry to conduct an energy study.
Port commissioners Tuesday agreed to a letter of intent from the company specifying the terms of the preliminary agreement.
That includes Diamond Foundry paying 50 percent of what rent would be on the land, about $130,000, which would be non-refundable.
The warehouse company interested in the land, referred to during the meeting as "last mile warehousing", was offering to buy the property for $135,000 per acre, which translates to a sale price of almost $2.3 million.
Kuntz said the Port would instead assist the warehousing firm with a possible purchase of a close by parcel from a private owner, although the price of that land would likely be higher.
Diamond Foundry is offering to lease the Port’s land for 50 years at $350,000 per year, an arrangement commissioners did not object to during the Tuesday meeting.
Kuntz thinks the company wants to build on its current operations in the area.
“Diamond Foundry has an interest in growing in the greater Wenatchee area as being a North American place where they’re going to continue to manufacture diamonds,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz also said Diamond has plans to expand its number manufacturing plants in the valley on both sides of the Columbia River.
He said the company contacted Douglas PUD about available power in the immediate area of the airport site and was assured by the utility it had excess power available.
Diamond Foundry has been highly complementary toward the Wenatchee area in news releases it has sent out.
In one announcement the company stated, "Wenatchee is America at its best in many ways -- a place where community and pristine nature are paramount."
The Port purchased the 26-acres site, which was previously occupied by the Fibro Corporation for $1.6 million in 2020.
Nine acres fronting Grant Road will be used in the future for long-term parking for the airport.
The remaining 17 acres will be sold or leased for industrial use.
And after Monday’s Port Board meeting, it appeared Diamond Foundry would likely be its future occupant.