West Salem farmland selling for $38 million is poised for new housing, developers say

A133.9-acre property on Northwest Orchard Heights Road, which developers say is suitable for housing development, is selling for $38 million. (Coldwell Banker)

A west Salem farm property developers say is fit for new housing is up for sale, priced at nearly $38 million.

The 133.9-acre property on Northwest Orchard Heights Road is billed as land suitable for different densities of housing, with views of west Salem’s hills and the Cascades. It sits within Salem city limits.

Polk County Assessor Valerie Patoine said the property’s high price is a microcosm of skyrocketing land value.

Due to the local housing shortage, land that allows for housing development — whether on bare land or in residential city lots — is at a premium price, particularly in city limits.

“The highest and best use of the property is that it would be potential subdivision land,” Patoine said.

Much of the city’s residential growth in the next 20 years is destined to take place on the western side of west Salem where the property is located, according to Mike Erdmann, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk Counties.

Erdmann said the area contains much of the remaining vacant land inside the Salem-Keizer urban growth boundary that can accommodate new housing.

“New housing of any type in this area of town is badly needed, as Salem is woefully short of the levels of housing production needed to keep pace with demand, and this lack of housing supply continues to contribute to our housing affordability crisis,” he said in an email.

Erdmann said he was hesitant to speculate on how the west Salem property will develop because its current and potential future zoning gives flexibility for a variety of types of housing.

The property is slated for rezoning as part of a plan by city officials to expand much-needed multi-family housing as Salem is expected to see tens of thousands of new residents over the next decade. The Salem City Council on Monday will hold a second reading of the Our Salem plan, which would rezone portions of the property for mixed use and multifamily housing development.

The ordinance would go into effect 30 days after second reading. Anyone with plans for development on the property will first need to request and receive approval for all land use and permits required under the new zoning.

The property’s current zoning allows for single-family homes, townhomes and residential homes. It also permits middle housing like triplexes, quadplexes, townhouses and cottage clusters.

If approved, the city would rezone about 62 acres for mixed use, which would expand it to allow for multifamily housing, as well as retail, business, and educational uses.

About 7 acres would be rezoned to multifamily residential, which allows for short-term commercial lodging and rentals and conditional uses for personal services, as well as multifamily housing.

The farmland is owned by the Wyant family, who have been longtime property developers and retail store owners in Salem. They began acquiring the land in 1962, according to a pamphlet for the land sale.

Their property is among the largest currently for sale in Salem and sits on one of the city’s highest-income areas, said Alex Rhoten, a broker for the Wyant family trust.

The average household income is about $80,000 within a mile of the property, $67,000 within five miles and $59,600 within 10 miles, according to the flier. That’s above Salem’s median household income, which was $58,726 in 2020, according to Census data. 

Donald Wyant Sr., the property’s previous owner, died last fall. “They’ve just decided to liquidate their holdings,” Rhoten said.

Rhoten said the property could be used for any purpose that its zoning allows, but he envisions new mixed use housing. “It’s slated for some sort of housing development. That’s been always the plan,” he said.

The city would rezone the 3100 block of Northwest Orchard Heights Road and 2916 Orchard Heights Rd. N.W. under the Our Salem plan.

Rhoten said they’ve listed the property for several months. “The real estate market just substantially changed because of interest rates and inflation in the last 90 (to) 120 days. But we had interest right off the bat,” he said.

He said the property has “a couple” of potential buyers but remains available.

According to the pamphlet, the land’s total estimated value is about $37.94 million.

Patoine said she would be surprised if it sold for that amount without the proposed zone changes.

She said the property is currently valued as land for potential subdivision development, but it’s receiving farm deferral. That means the family has to show three out of five years that they earn $100 per acre or a maximum of $3,000 a year from farming, and the country assessor values the property based on its soil productivity.

The average house value is listed at about $247,000 within five miles and $228,000 within 10 miles.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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