(UPDATED, Sept. 21) Crunch Pak has taken the first step in acquiring expansion acreage near the company’s Cashmere, Wash. headquarters.

Crunch Pak paid $30,000 to secure a 120-day option on an abandoned lumber mill site, said Tony Freytag, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“It is literally adjacent to property we already own and could give us options for the future,” he said.

The more than 30-acre site was purchased three years ago by the Port of Chelan County with an eye toward returning the land to private ownership, said Mike Armstrong, external affairs director. Port commissioners voted to approve the $2.3 million Crunch Pak deal for roughly 20 acres of the land Sept. 13.

“We see it as an opportunity, we also see it as an obligation,” Freytag said. “As a major employer in Cashmere, we want to be responsible and do the responsible things.”

That includes partnering with the city and county as the community grows, he said.

The 120-day evaluation period permits Crunch Pak to determine whether the property is suitable for building and to weigh options, Freytag said. Among those options is relocating administrative, accounting and sales offices to the new site while adding capacity in production to the current headquarters location, he said.

The existing Cashmere plant isn’t yet at capacity but will soon be, Freytag said.

“Our workforce of about 500 people is 25% higher than at this time a year ago,” he said. “We do anticipate expanding; we do anticipate adding more people.”

The pending purchase also signals Crunch Pak’s commitment to the nation’s top apple producing region.