16 Mar Nike Expanding World Headquarters?
March 14–Nike officials have steadfastly refused to comment about the site of their corporate expansion since a special session of the Legislature convened in December to assure it would remain in Oregon. But an engineering company’s report offers a hint that something big is planned on 28 acres west of Nike’s World Headquarters campus.
The Portland office of WHPacific Inc. conducted a water survey of the property in October, according to the documents The Oregonian obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.
In its correspondence with Nike officials, the development company refers to “Project Impact,” which was the code name Nike used to refer to its expansion plan in messages to Oregon lawmakers.
WHPacific prepared the wetlands report for Eric Sorensen, manager of corporate architecture at the Nike Facilities Group. The engineering company gave a copy to the Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 24, just a day after the Corps, WHPacific and Project Impact team members met, documents show.
In the vacuum of information about Nike’s plans, the scant report — 12 pages plus appendices — offers the loudest voice yet about where Nike will next expand its Oregon base of operations. The document also suggests that Washington County is a frontrunner for at least a part of Nike’s plans, a development that has been more closely watched than any other in the company’s 40-year history in part because of the unprecedented cooperation ahead of time with state lawmakers.
In return for tax guarantees, Nike agreed to invest a minimum of $150 million, add 500 new jobs and expand its presence in Oregon.
Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi said in an emailed statement Thursday evening, “We are assessing sites in Multnomah and Washington Counties for our expansion. No decision has been made on where our expansion would occur nor do we have a timeline to share on when a decision will be made. This report is part of the normal course we follow in an entitlement process to make sure our properties are ready for use at some future date.”
A WHPacific employee on Thursday declined to comment, referring questions to Julia Brim-Edwards, senior director for government and public affairs at Nike, who, with other lobbyists, shepherded the “Economic Impact Investment Act” to and through the Legislature.
There are other indications outside the main 213-acre campus that Nike is bursting at the seams.
Construction trailers sit outside leased buildings in office parks west and south of the campus. Those buildings will be renovated for more Nike employees, just like other leased and owned off-campus buildings nearby.
Asked about this construction activity, Remuzzi said, “Any real estate investment is designed to help meet Nike’s current space requirements as well as provide options for future growth.”
Nike employs 44,000 people around the world, about half in the United States and 8,000 of them in Oregon. Nike is one of two Fortune 500 members in the state, with employment in Oregon that has grown 60 percent since 2007. In December, Brim-Edwards told lawmakers the company has an average wage of more than $100,000 — about double the state and regional averages.
But the presence of wetlands on a development site can alter and even scuttle development plans.
The WHPacific report concludes there are 11 wetlands totaling 2.38 acres on the “West Field” site, which once was the Burlington Northern Windolph Industrial Park. The entire 27.72-acre site is now zoned as a “transit oriented district” because of its proximity to the Beaverton Creek MAX station a half-mile south.
A letter sent Jan. 24 from WHPacific to James Holm, regulatory project manager for the Corps in Portland, says “there are certain wetland areas on the site that in our opinion are ‘isolated’ from other ‘waters of the U.S.'” The letter also notes that the Corps’ review will be conducted with the Environmental Protection Agency.
That typically means the applicant “believes that the area does not fall under Corps jurisdiction,” Corps spokeswoman Michelle Helms said Thursday.
“The Corps will still do a complete review” of the site itself, she said.
— Allan Brettman; twitter.com/abrettman