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Port of Portland Aims to Add Jobs

November 11, 2020

(Photo: Port of Portland)

(Photo: Port of Portland)

Oregon's Port of Portland has set out to develop a thriving jobs center.

The Port of Portland Commission unanimously approved a Master Development Agreement (MDA) with Specht Development Inc. and Colas Development Group (CDG) to manage land in Gresham for marketing and development services. As part of this MDA, the port is implementing a new framework focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by leveraging its real estate assets to create a more equitable and prosperous region.

This DEI framework will be implemented at the Gresham Vista Business Park, a 221-acre property that the port purchased in 2011. The port has worked with the city of Gresham to develop the site into a thriving jobs center for manufacturing and logistics companies, including Subaru of America and Element 6, a synthetic diamond manufacturer.

At roughly 48 acres, Gresham Vista Lot 5 is one of the last large lots that remain undeveloped across all the port’s properties. With a focus on advancing regional prosperity, the port set a goal to attract businesses that provide quality jobs. The port defines quality jobs as offering at least three of the following:

  • Wages equal to or greater than state average wage
  • Competitive benefits
  • Low barriers-to-entry
  • Career ladder opportunities
  • Workforce support
  • Diverse and inclusive workplace

This effort is connected to the port’s organizational equity plan, which includes specific goals to increase minority and women-owned small business participation; create an equitable, inclusive and welcoming place to work; and engage the community.

“We want this development project to not just bring more quality jobs to East Multnomah county, but to attract businesses that provide stability and career growth so people in the region can support themselves and their families,” said Keith Leavitt, chief commercial officer at the Port of Portland. “We are grateful we found committed partners who have the background and expertise to help us accomplish this.”

The Gresham Vista Lot 5 MDA seeks to market and develop a manufacturing-focused business park targeting employers who provide quality jobs. The Specht/Colas team, which includes Jones Lange Lasalle as the real estate broker, will partner with the port and city of Gresham on marketing and economic development. The project expects to develop multiple build-to-suit manufacturing facilities, which are buildings specifically constructed to meet the design needs and specifications of one particular user.

Specht Development Inc. is a Portland-based developer founded in 1992 with experience in all aspects of real estate: as advisor, buyer, seller, partner and developer. The company has provided project and construction management on over 11 million square feet of commercial and industrial real estate.

“We are pleased and excited to partner with Colas, the Port of Portland, the city of Gresham, and our extended project team, to pursue development projects on the 48-acre Lot 5 site in the Gresham Vista Business Park. This unique partnership allows Colas the opportunity to pursue larger-scale industrial real estate developments and another opportunity for Specht to create a significant number of quality jobs while also meeting much needed DEI goals,” said Gregory Specht, president and founder of Specht Development.

Colas Construction, Inc. and CDG is a family-owned Portland-based construction and development company that was founded by Hermann Colas, Jr. in 1997. Hermann’s early vision was to create a multi-generational firm that concentrated on building and developing quality projects while focusing on diversifying the real estate and construction industry as a whole. Today, the company provides construction services in civic, K-12, higher education, industrial, mixed-use, affordable housing and tenant improvements.

“We are thrilled to partner with Specht, the Port of Portland, and the city of Gresham on this unique development project. We believe this project will set a new standard in the importance of BIPOC Development Corporation (BDC’s) inclusion in large-scale developments and could not be more excited to partner with Specht in this pursuit,” said Andrew Colas, president and CEO of Colas Construction.

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