Port of Ephrata is “Ready for Business”

Posted on Jan 30, 2016

Former Katana Building at Port of Ephrata"We're really anxious to see what comes next," says Mike Wren, Manager of the Port of Ephrata.

In 2015, the Port of Ephrata took over three buildings that were built by Katana on Port land. The buildings include two heavy manufacturing facilities that total 105,500 square feet, plus a 2,000 square foot break and restroom building.

After Katana didn't become a success, a family business named Service Steel took over the buildings, leasing the land under them from the Port. Service Steel was an established company and, according to Wren, it was hoped they would bring jobs to the Ephrata area. But that did not work out, and they started defaulting on lease requirements on the buildings in 2014. By the end of 2015 the Port had acquired the buildings under terms of the lease, Wren explained. The buildings are in very good shape, Wren says, and ready to be leased again.

"Jobs are our measure of success," says Wren, "not squeezing every penny out of those buildings." The Port will be marketing the buildings to possible employers who would create jobs. The Port has spent about $100,000, according to Wren, to settle with Service Steel, on legal fees, paying taxes and utilities that Service Steel defaulted on, and to clean up and prepare the buildings. "We're ready for business," Wren adds.

Wren is hopeful that a company will come to Grant County looking for 100,000 square feet of existing building. The Grant County Economic Development Council has, Wren explains, had such inquiries in the past.

But, until now, there were no such facilities in the county. Or, he says, two companies could go into the building by putting office and restrooms in one of the manufacturing buildings.

Another advantage the buildings have is they already have cranes inside. The Port worked a deal with Lampson International, who provided cranes to Service Steel. The cranes will stay in the buildings and if a new tenant needs them, they can lease them from Lampson.

The Port, as a public facility, has to lease the buildings for a "mandated fair market value," says Wren. But the value of a lease of the buildings is more than just the bare ground, so when the buildings are leased out, the Port will have more income to re-invest.

Wren says that when Katana didn't pan out, it was easy to be fearful. Then when Service Steel came, he was optimistic again. But when they failed, things looked darker. But "now those buildings are in our possession and in the market for jobs" so you never know how things are going to turn out. "Don't be afraid of change," Wren says.