Christensen plans Tennessee expansion

VANCOUVER — Yacht builder Christensen Shipyards Ltd. has decided against buying a large tract of land near the Port of Vancouver for its next expansion and will instead build bigger yachts at a factory near Knoxville, Tenn., The Oregonian newspaper reported in a story on its Web site earlier this week.

Christensen will continue to build its smaller yachts — as long as 160 feet and costing at least $20 million — at its Vancouver plant. MasterCraft and Sea Ray will be neighbors of Christensen in the Tellico West Industrial Park in Vonore, Tenn., about 35 miles southwest of Knoxville, according to the story.

Construction of the $20 million, 550,000-square-foot plant is scheduled to start this year and will be completed in two years. It will initially employ 500 workers and double that number in six years. Five buyers, all repeat Christensen customers, have said they want the 180-foot-long “mega yachts” that will be made at the plant.

Company officials also believe the Tennessee site will allow Christensen to make inroads in the European market.

The Vancouver plant, which employs about 400 workers, is about to complete an expansion for a total of 160,000 square feet. Another 100 workers are expected to be hired, Joe Foggia, Christensen’s president, told the newspaper.

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