SEH's east Vancouver property is up for lease, suggesting expansion plans are off [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.]
(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 15--The Columbian's Aaron Corvin has a detailed article today recounting unsuccessful efforts to recruit Nike to Hewlett-Packard's former east Vancouver campus.
From a tech perspective, what's interesting about this is that that the property's current owner -- SEH America -- wanted to part with the site just three years after buying it.
That's terrible news for the metro area's tech and solar industries, which had been hoping that SEH might expand its regional footprint.
SEH makes silicon wafers for the chip industry at its existing Vancouver facility. It has never said why it paid $55 million for HP's old 174-acre campus (HP sold the property in 2009, following years of downsizing, and moved the few remaining employees to another site nearby.)
At one point it seemed that SEH might be contemplating solar production in east Vancouver. Solar cells are made from silicon ingots, the same raw material that underpins the wafers for chip production.
Vancouver's city manager is out today and SEH didn't return my calls. Within the city's economic development community, the belief is that SEH was indeed thinking solar in east Vancouver -- but abandoned that plan last year when the market for solar wafers and ingots collapsed.
SEH quietly put the property up for lease with the real estate firm of Cushman & Wakefield, which referred questions back to SEH (which didn't return another call.)
SEH America currently makes 300-millimeter silicon wafers, the industry standard. But chip manufacturers are preparing an upgrade to more efficient, cost effective 450-millimeter wafers (that's about the size of an extra-large pizza), starting with the second phase of Intel's D1X research factory, now under construction in Hillsboro.
That's likely to open late in 2015, and someone will need to make 450-millimeter wafers to supply it. Additionally, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. appears to be considering a 450-millimeter chip factory in New York, Hillsboro or Camas.
Theoretically, a new SEH facility in east Vancouver could be built to meet the needs of Intel and TSMC. I've heard no talk of that, though.
And with the property up for lease, it appears SEH won't be doing anything at all with it. So the prospects of tech or solar manufacturing at the site seem considerably less bright than they did when SEH bought it back in 2009.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699
(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]