Mt. Hood Community College’s "back 40," a 36.38-acre plot on the northeast corner of the college lot, is up for grabs.
The problem is nobody wants it.
The college has been actively trying to market the property for lease since 2003. Brenda Brady, special assistant to the president, said, "We’ve talked to some developers and they’ve told us the market just isn’t there yet."
Part of the reason for the lack of interest is the location of the property. "It’s not right on the freeway," said Brady. "That seems kind of silly, since we are so close to it (I-84), but the really prime locations that people want to develop are right next to it."
As part of its efforts to market the land, the college earned "Project-ready" certification from the State of Oregon earlier this school year. The process for obtaining this certification consists of surveying and analyzing the plot, testing the ground and water for contaminates and setting parameters for development.
"The certification is basically a form of marketing," said Brady. "Since the beginning of the school, the back 40 has been considered a ‘future asset’ for college expansion.
Obviously, we haven’t needed it yet, so the time had come to figure out how best to use it. A few years ago a proposal to build some housing on the land was brought to the board. They rejected the proposal but decided that it was time to look at marketing the land."
The proposal that Brady is referring to was made to the District Board March 12, 2003 by Trammel Crow. The proposal was to place 240 residential units on 10 acres of the back 40. The proposal, despite its rejection, did serve to spark conversation about use of the land, according to Brady. This led to the drafting and approval of a land use policy by the board. The eight-point policy was adopted April 9, 2003 and a "land use planning committee" was formed to go to work on the project that summer.
Mark Clemons, of Group Mackenzie developers, was contracted to develop a plan for marketing the property. Clemons let the board and the committee know about the certification process and helped move that process along, according to Brady.
The revenue from the lease along with any value that MHCC gains from the site’s development are sure to help the college, said Brady, but no parameters for the use of that money are in place yet.
“At this point that has not been decided,” said Brady, “but I’m sure areas with the highest need will be considered if it ever happens.”