Eugene, Ore., developer Steve Lee said he has struck a deal to buy the sprawling former Monaco Coach Corp. recreational vehicle manufacturing plant.
The Register Guard reported that Lee on Thursday (July 7) said he and his wife, Sally, have agreed to purchase the 69-acre complex that produced RVs for Coburg-based Monaco Coach before plummeting sales pushed the firm into bankruptcy three years ago.
Lee’s deal to buy nine buildings totaling nearly 1 million square feet is with a division of Navistar International Corp., which acquired the property as part of its acquisition of Monaco Coach in 2009. Lee said terms of the deal with Illinois-based Navistar prevent him from disclosing the purchase price or the date the property will change hands.
“It will be in the near future,” said Lee, a local developer with experience in housing, office and retail construction.
At its peak before financial troubles hit the RV industry, Monaco employed about 2,000 people in Coburg. Employment at Monaco had shrunk dramatically since 2008, and Navistar earlier this year moved production of Monaco RVs, along with some management work, from Coburg to Wakarusa, Ind., plus other management jobs to Illinois.
Navistar employs a total of 150 people in Oregon’s Lane and Linn counties, including at a manufacturing plant in Harrisburg that makes RV trailers.
Lee said he will convert the empty buildings in Coburg to a business park called Coburg North. A Monaco RV service center, with about 70 employees, operates from one of the buildings, and the firm will remain there and lease the structure after the property is acquired. Lee said he will seek tenants for the buildings that range in size from 3,700 square feet to 330,000 square feet.
Lee said he worked for Monaco Coach as its construction representative in the mid 1990s when the firm built the manufacturing facility. When he learned a few months ago that the property was for sale, he became interested in buying it.
“I poured my heart into this creation, and when I heard it was going to be sold, I could not imagine anyone else having the chance to buy it and bring it back to life,” he said. “I love the city of Coburg and wanted to be able to help breathe some new air back into the town. The facility is an ideal location for business and I cannot wait to get started.”