New owners announced for Woodgrain Mill site in Prineville

The former Woodgrain Mill site in Prineville has new owners – an industrial development group that focuses on rehabilitating properties.

The new ownership believes in grass-roots developments and has named the new venture “Prineville Campus, LLC.”

The developer specifically bought the property to leverage the previous Mill’s extensive infrastructure for a large industrial re-development campus to benefit the community in bringing back local manufacturing, stimulating economic revitalization, and supporting the Prineville local employment market and Crook County rural region.

To provide some historical background, the Prineville community suffered a considerable blow when Woodgrain, the former owners, started moving operations away from the area.

Then a portion of the old mill roof collapsed in January 2017, with the resulting closing and loss of hundreds of local jobs.

The old sawmill was one of the last remaining in Crook County with nearly continuous use as a wood-products manufacturing facility since around 1938 when it became operational as the Alexander-Yawkey (A-Y) Mill.

The A-Y mill reportedly burned in 1940 but was subsequently rebuilt and expanded in size over the 50 years to approximately 500,000 square feet of industrial space on a 56-acre parcel.

Following the collapse, the complex was reduced to the current size of 230,000 building square feet but retained all the previous building pads for future manufacturing development space.

Market forces are shaping the Prineville area. Current conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic have now caused manufacturers to rethink their location and driven some people back to rural areas.

High-tech jobs with Apple and Facebook in the new large hyper-scale data center industry have been in Prineville for a decade. With the shift in desired location and lifestyle across the state, the mill building’s new owner aspires to provide industrial space for the community to grow.

When the new owner purchased the property in 2020 and looked at redeveloping the property, the Crook County building department demanded a thorough safety assessment with a report documenting its findings before giving their consent to reopen the site to the public.

To evaluate the property’s fire and life safety, the owner turned to Code Unlimited, a 40-person code consulting firm with experience on similar projects across the Pacific Northwest.

Code Unlimited, with assistance from local engineering firms Colebreit Engineering and Eclipse Engineering, evaluated the life safety systems, structural systems, and MEP systems for compliance with the applicable codes. This evaluation’s scope and framework were confirmed with Crook County building and fire officials, who had declared all standing portions of the site as dangerous and closed the site back in 2017.

Previous steps had been taken, such as removing the damaged portions of the collapsed complex before entering the rest of the buildings to validate that the snowstorm did not damage the current standing structures.

The building envelope, structural framing, and critical mechanical/electrical systems were inspected for required repairs and general maintenance from past use and years when the building was idle.

The fire suppression systems, including the fire pumps and supply lines, were upgraded and tested to accommodate future industrial uses. The minor building systems, such as tenant sprinklers, minor electrical, and HVAC systems, will undergo additional improvements as new tenants come on board.

The final report submitted to the county included the life safety analysis by Code Unlimited, testing and analysis of building mechanical and electrical equipment by Colebreit engineers, and structural analysis by a professional structural engineering firm Eclipse Engineering. The owners also provided a rigorous operational / maintenance plan to assure the industrial complex and future users’ longevity and safe operation.

“Crook County Fire and Rescue appreciated working with Prineville Campus, LLC, its partners, and the Crook County Building Department on this project to ensure a safe and appropriate revitalization of the mill campus. The mill campus is a significant asset to the community of Prineville and Crook County, and the district is excited to see what future businesses decide to locate there.” – Russell Deboodt, Division Chief – Fire and Life Safety.

The new owner plans to maintain the same industrial types of use for the site.

Though not classified as a historic structure, the owner intends to keep the facility’s unique character and cultural value.

The building is ideal for large-scale industrial use, including indoor as well as outdoor.

New tenants will benefit from the high bay structures, high capacity water supply and power, and rail spur with access to Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Union Pacific Railroads.

Current and future generations will now have the opportunity to lease/develop their businesses on the same lots where previous generations whirred saws and rolled lumber to bring prosperity to their families and the old mill town community.

“The Prineville Campus has appreciated working with all stakeholders of both Crook County and City of Prineville on a go-forward plan to revitalize a much-needed community asset. We look to the re-development of Campus to benefit the community in bringing back local manufacturing, stimulating economic revitalization, and supporting the Prineville local employment market and Crook County rural region.”- Charles Bauman, COO

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