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Regional Industrial Lands Study

The Institute provided staff support for Phase 3 of the Regional Industrial Lands Study (RILS). The study was sponsored by a diverse group of public and private organizations, with OTAK as the prime contractor. The two earlier phases of the Regional Industrial Lands Study initiated a public and private dialog about the need for and availability of industrial land in the Portland-Vancouver PMSA.

RILS Reports

Phase 1: The "Industrial Lands Focus Groups" report is available for downloading as a .pdf file at the Port of Portland website:

Phase 2: The RILS Phase 2 report is available at Metro's website:

Phase 3 Report (.pdf files):

  • Final Report Presentation, November 30, 2001

[To read or download .pdf files, you need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download it at this site.]

Project Description and Conclusions

The general purpose of Phase 3 is to identify and evaluate potential policy strategies and issues that can help increase the supply of industrial land that is ready for development. In particular, the study conducted case studies to better understand the issues associated with overcoming physical, infrastructure, and ownership constraints to industrial development and for ensuring an adequate supply of ready-to-develop industrial land to meet forecasted rates of growth. Case studies both inside and outside of the Metro Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and Clark County Urban Growth Area (UGA) were assessed.

General conclusions from the six inside UGB/UGA case studies include:


  • The largest re-occurring cost item is for transportation (e.g., provision of adequate roads, intersections, and traffic signals) which in the case studies represented about three-quarters of the conversion costs.
  • The cost of property assembly is likely to exceed transportation costs for sites smaller than four net acres.
  • Utility costs typically represent about 10 to 20 percent of the total land conversion costs and other miscellaneous costs account for 5 to 15 percent of the total land conversion costs
  • The sites that are most developable are those that have fairly good highway access and have about 5 or more net acres of contiguous land area in a rectangular configuration.
  • The constrained land supply can be developed with industrial uses as long as land use and environmental permitting allows that activity to occur, minimum site development factors are met (see finding no. 1), and conversion costs are less than $80,000 per net acre.
  • Public land assembly is likely needed as a catalyst for smaller urbanized vacant or redevelopment parcels with separate ownership.
  • The analysis indicates that costs are only one factor that can inhibit conversion. Local political and community preferences can also hinder industrial development (e.g., Glenn Oak case study) given growth pressure from non-industrial uses such as schools and "competing" interests.

Key conclusions from the analysis of outside UGB/UGA case studies include:

  • The largest re-occurring cost item appears to be transportation (e.g., provision of adequate roads, intersections, and traffic signals) which for the case studies represent about 68 percent of the conversion costs.
  • Utility costs represent about 30 percent of the conversion costs, and other costs less than 5 percent.
  • Development phasing and cost-sharing agreements will likely be very important for areas outside the UGB/UGA given the large amounts of funding required to construct needed infrastructure.
  • The amount of transportation investment needed in these case study areas is so large that new cost sharing methods (e.g., systems development charges, local improvement districts, and/or urban renewal districts) and/or new dedicated funding sources (e.g., serial bond levies) for roads would be needed.
  • The cost per job and cost per net buildable acre are on par with the range of costs identified for case studies inside the UGB/UGA.

While transportation infrastructure is the largest cost factor for case studies near urban areas, the additional lack of basic (sewer and water) infrastructure in rural locations such as Scappoose will limit any significant industrial development from occurring there as well. In addition to specific recommendations for dealing with ownership, environmental and land use, and infrastructure constraints, the study found an immediate need for:

  • Creation of a clear regional economic development strategy.
  • Preservation of strategically located industrial sites for industrial development.
  • Linking public investments with a clear economic development strategy.

The study concluded that the lack of attention to the state of the industrial land supply coupled with the lack of a clear regional economic development strategy is creating a potential crisis for economic development efforts in the metropolitan area.