Port tenant clash over lease

first_imgNorthwest Packing Co. and the Port of Vancouver appear no closer to resolving their ongoing landlord-tenant dispute over how much rent the food processor should pay.The simmering conflict surfaced again during the port board of commissioners’ regular public hearing Tuesday. That’s when Northwest Packing urged the port to maintain the company’s current annual lease payment — $149,439 — as part of a larger 25-year contract renewal. That would sustain the company’s competitiveness in the face of industry consolidation, tight profit margins and global market challenges, company officials said.“Every cost increase we have is a big impact,” said Matt Jones, president and CEO of Northwest Packing’s parent, The Neil Jones Food Co. Northwest Packing processes a variety of fruits for canning, juices and sauces.But the port isn’t budging from its position: that Northwest Packing is bound by its current 25-year lease to move to a higher annual lease payment — $372,021 — based on fair market value. The port said it prefers to keep the company, which employs an estimated 400 to 500 full-time equivalent workers, at its 15-acre site on the port’s east side. But terms in the company’s current lease requiring a shift to fair market value “must be carried out,” said Todd Coleman, the port’s executive director.Northwest Packing’s 25-year lease, which the port extended for three years in 2011 to buy time for negotiations, is set to expire at the end of this year. If the two parties can’t resolve the matter soon, provisions in the current lease will force a conclusion. Those provisions spell out an appraisal process both parties would use to determine fair market value, said Theresa Wagner, a spokeswoman for the port.last_img