A large-scale project on industrial-zoned property in Philomath could attract both tourists and businesses if it materializes as envisioned by the developer.
Scott Lepman Co., based in Albany and doing business as Glorietta Bay LLC, wants to build a 175-space recreational vehicle park for those visitors to the region, a 19,363-square-foot industrial flex space building to attract businesses, and a self-storage complex that would feature 150,000 square feet of space and could even include an open area for RVs and boats.
“This is the biggest industrial development we’ve had proposed since I’ve been here in the last five years,” Workman said. “It’s a big project, lots of different aspects.”
The former mill site property had been owned by David Lin and the spot where the RV park would go near the railroad tracks had been proposed a few years ago as the location for a new county jail. After that idea failed with voters, Lin eventually sold most of the property — he did hang on to a smaller area — to Lepman.
The city had been advertising a public hearing on the project to take place May 20 during a planning commission meeting but that needed to be postponed to a later date because of traffic study issues.
“There are some additional questions that came up and so they’ve reached back out to their traffic engineer to do some more counts and more surveying and come back with some responses to some of the concerns that ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) and the county had,” Workman said.
The proposed RV park, with main access off 19th Street, just might fill a demand in Benton County.
“That’ll be a draw for not only the city, but for the county and the region, that’ll be an added amenity to bring people to Philomath,” Workman said. “I think that’s nice for people either coming through for special events or people coming to visit family to have a spot where they can hook up.”
Options for RV campers are limited in the vicinity and it can be hard to get a spot on the coast during the peak season.
“I think we need to recognize that Oregon’s becoming more and more of a destination for people,” Workman said. “If you get a spot here where it’s a little bit warmer, a little bit sunnier, then it’s a 45-minute drive over for a day trip. That’s pretty appealing, too, and Philomath just overall is a great place to live so I can see the demand for people wanting to be here.”
The RV park, which would rent at the market rate, would feature a 7,088-square-foot community center area with a two nearby viewing platforms close to Newton Creek. A walking trail system is also part of the plans.
“Every impression I have is that they want to do it right and have it look nice and be an attraction,” Workman said.
The flex business space component of the project is what Workman believes could be a very exciting addition to Philomath. The developer proposes to build two larger buildings that can be converted into different interior spaces to rent out.
“The target market for those are going to be your small business entrepreneurs, like a small mechanic’s shop that needs to get started and needs 1,000 square feet and a small office space so they can start up a business,” Workman said. “I think some of the breweries that we’ve had start up, they’ve come in here looking for same thing, 1,000 square feet with 16-foot ceilings ... It’s a struggle right now in Philomath to find those pockets of little small, industrial spaces.”
In what appears to have the characteristics of a business park configuration, the site is on the highway and has direct traffic in and out for customers.
“To me, if new business is coming to town, that’s new jobs that are going to be in town,” Workman said.
The self-storage portion of the project proposes 12 separate buildings, although those would be constructed over time based on demand.
“Apparently they’ve done their research and see that there’s demand for it,” Workman said. “The gentlemen that’s looking to develop the property does own other self-storage units in the area ... it’s something he’s very familiar with.”
Workman added that there is one area on the property designated as boat and RV storage, but it’s possible that could change.
“They’ll explain to the planning commission that that’s a little bit flexible,” Workman said. “If there’s a huge demand for additional self-storage, then they could come back in and expand. Or, if the RV park is a big hit and they need additional space, then the RV park could expand down to this part as well.”
Any such changes would need to go back before the planning commission but Workman said “at this point, there’s a little bit of flexibility built into the plan about what’s going to happen in that middle area.”
The developer is working with the state on wetlands on the property. Various other analyses have been completed and submitted to the appropriate agencies.