Long, winding road for Malheur County mushroom plant takes new turn

The owner of the former Oregon Trail Mushroom plant in Vale filed for bankruptcy in December. (The Enterprise/Rachel Parsons).

VALE – A former mushroom plant at the southeast part of town with a long, checkered history will get another turn in court after the firm that owns the facility recently filed for bankruptcy.

Western Heritage Investments LLC, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Dec. 10 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boise.

In the bankruptcy filings, the sole owner of Western Heritage Investments, LLC., Baljit Nanda, lists the value of the plant at $1.2 million and shows debts of $560,142.

The 2020 market value of the facility, according to the Malheur County Assessor’s office, is $700,000.

Nanda, a Colorado grocery store chain owner, weaves in and out of the nearly 33-year history of the mushroom plant.

Established in 1988, the plant produced more than eight million pounds of commercial mushrooms annually, but closed in 2007. The facility went into foreclosure in 2008 and sold at a sheriff’s auction in 2011 to a Portland real estate investment firm for $3.3 million.

According to county records, Western Heritage Investments bought the property from the investment firm for an undisclosed sum, borrowing $500,000 from the National Loan Acquisition Company of Wilsonville firm. The $500,000 loan was secured with the mushroom plant property.

Western Heritage Investments failed to make monthly payments, defaulted on the loan and neglected to pay county property taxes in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, according to county documents.

Last June, the property was to go on the auction block as the trustee sought more than $650,000 to pay off the loan, city fees and unpaid county property taxes.

That sale, though, never happened.

As the plant stayed mothballed, interest in the local mushroom industry revived in 2016 when Farmers Fresh Mushrooms, a Canadian firm, announced it was interested in building a facility in Vale. In 2017, the company bought 117 acres near the intersection of Frontier Lane and Lagoon Drive for $1 million with plans to build in January 2018 and employ 200 people.

In early 2018 the company canceled that plan, citing new tariffs, currency rates and changes in the market. The firm still owns the land.

In 2017, Parvez Malik of PASM Corp. of Colorado met with Vale city officials to seek assistance to reopen the mushroom plant. In a press release, the firm said it wanted to renovate the existing structure.

Malik and PASM Corp. didn’t move ahead on those plans.

Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando said he wants a company to acquire the plant.

“Whether it’s mushrooms or whatever. It is not the most pleasant site to introduce you to Vale. It is an eyesore but is has a lot of potential,” said Vialpando.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Oregon Trail mushroom plant goes on the auction block – again

Canadian company shelves Vale mushroom plant citing tariffs and other changes

Two firms looking at Vale for mushroom growing

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