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Mixed-use development eyed for shuttered paper mill

OREGON (News release) -- After more than a year of mulling their options, the owners of the defunct mill property in Newberg have renewed their plans to sell the site.

This news comes months after the city formed a subcommittee essentially asking the Atlanta-based company to give up the vacant WestRock property.

The mill has been closed since January 2016, about five months after the Atlanta-based company purchased it in a deal that included a second mill. The company initially said it would make improvements to the facility to make it more viable, but then suddenly shuttered the facility, first laying off its more than 200 workers than firing them outright a few months later.

City officials have recently been meeting with WestRock officials about the future of the mill, although the Newberg City Council had already begun moving forward with a plan to update the zoning of the site to allow additional uses. WestRock officials had said they wanted to leave the site alone.

This is not the first time the mill site has been for sale. It was listed with Colliers International soon after its closure and remained there until May 2018. The company sought an $8.25 million contract with the caveat that the paper-making machinery inside be destroyed.

The company received at least three sales offers for the facility, including from an Idaho company that wanted to demolish the mill for the scrap metal but later withdrew its offer. Two other paper companies made unsuccessful offers to purchase the plant for undisclosed prices as well.

Newberg Community Development Director Doug Rux said that in May 2018 "WestRock stepped back and were re-evaluating their options." On Monday, the company announced it was putting the mill site back on the market.


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