Forest Service Signs Lease at Biz Park

March 2011, CUJ

Forest Service

The Forest Service in Pendleton is planning to move their headquarters to the Coyote Business Park on the Umatilla Reservation. This conceptual drawing shows what the building might look like when it’s completed in the spring of 2012.

PENDLETON – The U.S. Forest Service intends to lease a 13,900-square-foot building to be constructed by the Confederated Tribes in Coyote Business Park on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

More than 70 Forest Service employees will move from their offices in the building overlooking Southgate Avenue in Pendleton to the new building, which is expected to be completed by May of 2012. The new building will be constructed in Coyote Business Park North between the DaVita Dialysis Center and Interstate 84.

“We are looking forward to our new setting at the base of the Blue Mountains and to work in a green building designed for energy efficiency ,” said Kevin Martin, Forest Supervisor.

The details of the $3 million financing package for the building are still being negotiated and are subject to final approval from the CTUIR Board of Trustees. If the approval process moves ahead as anticipated, construction would begin this summer.

The single-story building proposal includes a Leed certified scoresheet of a “silver” rating for sustainability , just one shy of the gold certification. The new facility will be highly visible and easily accessible to both visitors and staff from I-84. Parking will include 113 spaces and drive-through and parking designed to accommodate today’s longer horse trailers and toy haulers and RVs.

The current office lease (44 years old) on Southwest Hailey will expire in May of 2012. That’s the date set for the Forest Service to move into the new building

The CTUIR and the Forest Service negotiated for more than a year on the deal. The Confederated Tribes are negotiating a loan for about $3 million to construct the building. Rent paid by Forest Service is expected to satisfy the loan within the 15-year life of the lease, which includes a renewal option.

The Forest Service conducted a completive process through the Regional Leasing Office in Portland to solicit proposals for the new building. The current building owner did not submit a proposal. The City of Pendleton and the Tribes each submitted proposals but Coyote Business Park was chosen because it is “shovel ready” for tenants. Details of the financing package still are being negotiated.

“It is with mixed emotions we prepare to leave our current site,” said Martin. “This location has served us well (44 years) and we recognize that, for generations, the community has come here for information about their forest. We will strive to provide that same quality service at our new site,” Martin said.

The Forest Service building will be an additional anchor in the business park, which already is occupied by Cayuse Technologies on the west side of Highway 11 and by Arrowhead Travel Plaza on the east side. Less than half a mile away is Wildhorse Resort & Casino, which is in the throes of its own construction of a 10-story hotel and cineplex.

Bill Tovey, Director of the CTUIR Department of Economic and Community Development, said the Forest Service lease brings “synergy” to Coyote Business Park and helps solidify the Confederated Tribes as a “shovel-ready” site for companies interested in starting or growing their businesses.

Tovey said a recent East Oregonian story indicating that the infrastructure is not ready for tenants at the Pendleton airport industrial park may have made some readers think there was no option for the Pendleton economy.

“This shows that there is more than one Business Park in Pendleton,” Tovey said. Tovey said the Forest Service lease won’t generate a lot of revenues for the Tribes – at least not until the loan is repaid – but there still are a number of benefits.

“This is not going to be a huge money maker,” he said, “but it will have more than 70 employees who will use other Tribal enterprises like Arrowhead, Mission Market, Wildhorse and Tamástslikt Cultural Institute.”

A resolution passed in December by the Tribes’ Board of Trustees noted that the Forest Service lease also will “strengthen the government-to-government relationship” between the Tribes and the federal government, and will expand collaborative projects for the benefit of Tribal ceded lands within the Umatilla National Forest.

“The CTUIR has a well-established relationship with the Umatilla National Forest and we believe that the proposed office location would expand our opportunities to collaborate on a government-to-government basis, and it will increase traffic at CTUIR enterprises such as Arrowhead, Wildhorse and Tamástslikt,” said Elwood Patawa, the Tribes’ Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Stephanie Seamans, a DECD economic planner, who took the lead on this project, said it is a long-term lease with the federal government, an entity that remains stable in these tough economic times.

“There are lots of potential tenants who are not able to do anything right now because of the economy. Most are waiting it out or not planning any expansion at all,” Seamans said.

Seamans said Coyote Business Park would not have been “shovel ready” for tenants if not for a number of funding sources, including a $2 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration; $1.4 million from the Oregon Special Public Works; and $400,000 from the Tribes in 2006 to get started. Further funding included $698,000 from the Oregon Department of Transportation; $180,000 from the USDA Rural Development; and $65,000 from the Northeast Oregon Alliance.

“It was all because of the available infrastructure at Coyote Business Park; it’s what made this all possible,” Seamans said.

Patawa said the Tribes are anxious for the Forest Service to be part of the Tribes’ economic activity.

“When we finalize the financing, this will be another key addition to our Coyote Business Park, which we are actively marketing to a variety of businesses,” Patawa said.

This story and photos originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.