Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Seed company sets sights on big expansion project

INDEPENDENCE -- The economy may be moving along at a snail's pace in certain parts of the country, but one Independence business is doing its best to just keep up.

Universal Seed Co. will occupy building Nos. 2 and 4 of an industrial complex at the former site of a vacant slaughterhouse at 4650 Independence Highway.

TKP Engineering/for the Itemizer-Observer

Universal Seed Co. will occupy building Nos. 2 and 4 of an industrial complex at the former site of a vacant slaughterhouse at 4650 Independence Highway.

July 17, 2013

INDEPENDENCE -- The economy may be moving along at a snail's pace in certain parts of the country, but one Independence business is doing its best to just keep up.

Universal Seed Co., an Independence-based specialty seed company, is expanding its storage and shipping operations to the former site of the long-vacant slaughterhouse at 4650 Independence Highway.

The four-building complex will have enough space -- 30,500 square feet -- for Universal Seed as well as up to 10 other businesses to lease space.

Zoned as light industrial, the complex will be capable of housing a variety of businesses, Claire Tichinin said.

Tichinin represents Tichinin Holdings, the firm that purchased the property. Tichinin Holdings is owned by Universal Seed Co. owner Nick Tichinin, also Claire's father-in-law.

"We've had some interest from all different kinds (of businesses) so far," Claire Tichinin said. "We're trying to provide a nice facility but leave ourselves pretty open to accept different types of clientele and tenants."

Tichinin Holdings acquired the property at the beginning of February and had the slaughterhouse torn down at the end of May.

Originally slated as a two-building complex, work was put on hiatus for the last two weeks while plans were redrawn to add two more buildings to accommodate for added interest from area businesses.

The prospect of new businesses coming to Independence has city officials seeing the light at the end of a bleak economic tunnel.

"It's pretty exciting. We've been getting a lot more interest from commercial and industrial businesses," Independence Economic Development Director Shawn Irvine said. "This is the first real concrete sign that the economy is definitely picking up. We're real excited to have this business expanding."

Construction began in earnest this week as Nick Tichinin hopes to have the complex open and ready for tenants in September.

Universal Seed's headquarters at Rogers Road and Independence Highway is locked in by farmland on one side and pavement on the other, leaving it nowhere to expand.

Nick Tichinin jumped at the chance to acquire the slaughterhouse property.

"It was the closest, convenient, available space. It's just a mile down the road," Tichinin said.

Universal Seed started in California in 1989 and moved to its Independence location in 1995.

Since then, they have become a big player in the seed production and export business. Currently, 75 percent of what it produces -- broccoli, radish, spinach, cabbage and other vegetable seeds -- is exported across the globe.

The company has also been directly involved in supporting the passing of the Oregon Canola Bill, House Bill 2427, that bans growing canola in the Willamette Valley until 2019.

"Since the production of canola in the Willamette Valley would have a direct and detrimental affect on our business, we have been quite involved with working on getting legislation passed," Nick Tichinin said. "I am worried about this expansion because if canola production is allowed it's likely to have an eventual impact on our business. I'm taking a bit of a gamble."