The Olson family, owners of Evergreen Airport (59S) in Vancouver, Wash., have sold the airport to a developer, Opus Northwest LLC. A closing date has been set for mid-July.
The airport, which has been for sale since June 2001, is within three nautical miles of Portland International Airport (PDX). It was known for its tailwheel instruction and tube and fabric repair shop and, in later years, for an airpark. It also was the location of the annual Evergreen Fly-in sponsored by the Northwest Antique Aircraft Club. Runways include a 2,120- by 40-foot asphalt strip and a parallel turf runway that measures 2,000 by 100 feet.
Wally Olson started developing the airport in 1946 and was a regular fixture there until his death in 1997. The airport, which by then had shrunk to approximately 50 acres because Olson had been selling off property to make ends meet, was left to his children.
Once surrounded by agricultural fields, the property is now surrounded by subdivisions and strip malls.
When the Olson family decided they could no longer afford to keep the airport open, they reluctantly put it on the market. In 2001 the property was appraised at more than $1 million.
“It’s been very hard for us,” Cheryl Olson said. “Right across from the airport is the house we grew up in. We have pictures of us as kids playing in the dirt here. This airport is part of us.”
When the airport was first put on the market, pilots rallied in hopes of persuading the city and Port of Vancouver to buy the airport and take over its operation, but the efforts didn’t pay off. Within two years, the Evergreen Fly-in was relocated to McMinnville Municipal Airport (MMV) in Oregon.
Olson is not sure what will happen to the 30 or so homes in the airpark next to the airport. The airpark was created in 1968.
“They still have a private grass strip that belongs to the homeowners,” she said. “They have gone to court and as far as I know have won the right to keep it open. That sets a precedent, but we have no control over it.”
Olson notes that when the airport went on the market, many aircraft and business owners began looking for new arrangements so there are just a handful of aircraft still based at the airport.
“This was not a surprise,” she said, adding that when the deal was struck with the developer she carefully crafted a letter to the tenants that had the tone of a goodbye letter rather than an eviction notice. “We told them they would get a 90-day notice and we kept our word.”
Olson noted that the developer has indicated that it will remember the aviation heritage of the property in the mixed-use development.
“They have already named it ‘The Landing’,” she said.