What is Project Shakespeare? Besides Really, Really Big?

What is Project Shakespeare? The massive Canby development comes complete with a code name and a shroud of mystery over who’s behind it. Here’s what we know for sure.

VLMK Engineering and Design has filed plans with the city to build a 531,000 square foot beverage warehouse and distribution facility on 42 acres owned by Trammell Crow Company, a Portland-based industrial developer.

The project is located on four large lots bordered by SE First Avenue and Walnut and Mulino Roads, in the northeast corner of the Pioneer Industrial Park. Planning Director Bryan Brown said that when it’s completed, it would easily be the largest building in Canby, and the plans also point to two future expansions that would add another 112,000 square feet each. For those keeping track at home, that’s a grand total of over 755,000.

Forget Canby. Project Shakespeare looks like one of the biggest industrial buildings in the entire Portland metro area, perhaps even the state.

Specht Development’s Vista Logistics Park in Gresham is larger, for now, at 733,000 square feet, but that’s spread across multiple buildings. The park’s largest single building is a mere 494,464 square feet — 40,000 smaller than Shakespeare even before the expansions. The Interstate Crossroads Distribution Center, also by Specht, comes up short as well, at a paltry 492,554 square feet.

Larger buildings — like the new Amazon fulfillment center in Salem and the WinCo Foods distribution center in Wooburn, both over 1 million square feet — are owned by huge corporations that operate nationally, or even internationally. Project Shakespeare will be over 1,000 feet long — more than three football fields — and 520 feet wide. And the future expansions will add a total of 432 feet to that length.

OK, so it’s big. But what’s it for? And who in the world needs that much space? The answer to the first question is mostly a mystery; the answer to the second is a complete one.

We know it will be used for the storage and distribution of beverages. The inclusion of a 56,000 square foot (large enough to comfortably hold at least a few of the facility’s industrial park neighbors) cooler suggests, perhaps, beer or cider, but the plans are not specific.

The plans say the facility will accommodate 242 employees, working 24 hours a day, six to seven days a week. It will also have over 16,000 square feet of office space and a parking lot with 389 spaces.

The plans propose 62 bay doors for the loading and unloading of trucks — almost all of them along the east (Mulino Road) side of the building. (Although, there are plans to double that number with the addition of dock doors to the future loading area on the west side of the building.)

The facility will be secure, with a proposed eight foot fence and security gate surrounding the truck yard on the east, south and west sides.

But who’s the tenant? It could be Shakespeare himself, for all we know. We’ve talked to commercial brokers and other developers in the area, and everyone involved is being very tight-lipped. All we can say right now is it’s somebody who plans on distributing a lot of beverages.

The design plans are currently being reviewed by the Canby Planning Department, and the project is expected to go before the Planning Commission on Jan. 14.

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