Image by Jason McHuff via FlickrWhat is up with the State of Oregon trying to kill Salem's downtown?
At the north end of town the state has been busily filling up the Capital City Business "Center" -- the center of nowhere, actually, -- with hundreds of office workers, in a "center" that has no direct bus service from downtown Salem.* And now ODOT is planning to permanently move hundreds of high-paid white collar technical jobs out of downtown and into an area suited for manufacturing!
So even as the state makes a big show out of its greenhouse gas reduction goals, it keeps moving workers out of the bike-able and walkable core area that has the best service by bus. Instead, it's going to fill prime industrial space in a transit-inaccessible area with office workers, which means expensive interior refits and more driving by all those workers, plus starving downtown businesses of vitally needed customers.
But hey, who cares if Oregon's capital starts to look like Michigan's (Lansing's downtown is a scary, depressing vision -- something that Salem does NOT want to emulate). Something about these deals stinks.
-At the former Tyco building at 4040 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, ODOT wants to take 75,000 square feet of space on a 10-year lease, Miles said. The 4040 Fairview site will become the permanent home for ODOT's Technical Services and a section of Information Services. In all, about 300 workers will be based at the former Tyco building.There's something that Oregon seems to struggle with that world-class organizations figured out a long time ago: you can't let divisions optimize their own corner of the world at the expense of the whole organization. You have to optimize as a whole. Meaning that, even if we think the move of 300 prime workers is strictly on the up-and-up and has no hidden ulterior motive behind it, it still allows one division (ODOT) to make it's own numbers look better by making Salem's and the State of Oregon's look worse. Only by ignoring the impact of the move on Salem and on the state's own goals for reducing vehicle trips can you are argue that this pencils out, and it would only pencil out for ODOT management. It's going to hurt Salem as a whole, hurt those 300 workers who are losing their options for biking or walking or taking the bus to work, and it's going to hammer downtown businesses.
The building was built as a sister manufacturing site for Tyco's now defunct circuit board plant in the Polk County town of Dallas. Tyco broke ground on the project in autumn 2000, but Tyco never used the building for manufacturing and it became a symbol of the downturn in Oregon's high-tech industry. The vacant building is now owned by State Investment LLC, a local investment group.
-ODOT's plans call for about 220 employees to go to the former SUMCO building at 3930 Fairview Industrial Drive SE. The agency wants a two-year lease for about 65,000 square feet of space.
Employees at the old SUMCO building will return to the Capitol Mall building when the renovations are complete.
In 2004, SUMCO phased out its local manufacturing operations. The shutdown marked the end of an era that started in the 1980s when Siltec, a predecessor to SUMCO, began making silicon wafers in Salem.Cascadia Canyon LLC, a group with ties to Sunwest Management Inc., controlled the SUMCO property for several years. Past attempts to bring new businesses to the property came to a standstill when Salem-based Sunwest's financial problems spun out of control in fall of 2008. New owners, who are affiliated with Salem developer Jack Fox, have recently acquired most of the former SUMCO campuses.
Funny, there's some prime spaces in the very heart of downtown that could be refitted to serve office workers much easier than refitting manufacturing space ... but apparently no one is keeping an eye on how the state as a whole treats Salem -- especially sad given how much property tax revenue the state doesn't pay. The Legislature loves to badger the feds for timber payments in lieu of taxes for federally owned land, but apparently sees no connection with Salem's starved budgets and all the state-owned property in Salem.
(* Amusingly, Cherriots uses a photo of CCBC in some of its promotional materials with a caption along the lines of "Cherriots, We Take You There" -- irony at its finest. CCBC sits at the far end of the little northeast-pointing appendix grafted onto the otherwise circular Route 14 -- a route almost fiendishly well calculated to be useless.)