A Portland City Council committee voted unanimously Thursday evening to move forward with a plan to move public works operations out of the downtown area to a site off Canco Road, a project that eventually would cost the city more than $16 million and require voter approval.

Now that the Finance Committee has recommended spending money to acquire the former PepsiCo. property for $4.3 million, the city staff will ask the council next month to authorize the purchase of the 5-acre parcel, said Portland’s Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell. The parcel includes a 64,000-square-foot building.

The property at 250 Canco Road represents the next phase of the city’s effort to create a 13-acre public works headquarters in the center of the city. The move would free up downtown properties now occupied by salt sheds, heavy equipment and industrial shops.

The Canco Road property went on the market shortly after PepsiCo. announced last fall that it was closing warehouses in Portland and Augusta.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime that just fell in our lap,” Mitchell said in an interview Thursday, since the property borders one that is leased by the city. “We’ve been searching for a site for the entire time I’ve been here.”

The city began the relocation project last year with a property lease on Canco Road for a partial relocation, expected to cost about $3.1 million.

Two more phases are planned: the $4.3 million proposal to buy and upgrade the property at 250 Canco Road and move more operations out of Bayside, and an $8 million, longer-term plan to build an addition on that property for the city’s fleet services.

The city has a growing list of big-budget capital needs, which include replacing Hall Elementary School and upgrading several others. Combined, the city and school district own and maintain 82 buildings, 683 vehicles, 1,075 acres of parks and nearly 50 million square feet of roads and sidewalks.

Meanwhile, the city faces growing pension costs and the potential loss of millions of dollars in state funding.

In April, the council approved a $19 million budget for its Capital Improvements Program. The Finance Committee is being asked to approve $3.4 million in new debt for site on Canco Road.

The acquisition would cost $2.7 million, and another $1.6 million would be needed for building upgrades, according to a staff memo to councilors. The council’s Housing and Community Development Committee endorsed the purchase on Wednesday.

Mitchell said he hopes to get council approval on July 20.

The city took its first steps to move public works out of the Bayside neighborhood in March 2014, when it agreed to lease a 70,000-square-foot building at 212 Canco Road, with an option to buy. That project is expected to cost $3.1 million.

City officials originally planned to move 30 employees – the traffic division and maintenance workers – into the new facility by the end of this month. But the move was put on hold as part of a broader budget freeze that took effect after the state stopped reimbursing the city for General Assistance payments to asylum seekers, punching a roughly $5 million hole in the current budget.

Public Services Director Michael Bobinsky said work has since resumed to prepare 212 Canco Road for his staff.

The council’s housing committee postponed action Wednesday on a proposal to give the yet-to-be vacated building and land at 65 Hanover St. to Avesta Housing, which is proposing a two-phase housing development that would consist of 40 units of affordable rental housing and 13 market-rate apartments, then 20 two- and three-bedroom condominiums priced at $235,000 to $278,000.

Committee Chairman Kevin Donoghue said Thursday that the committee will take up the proposal again on July 8.

Public works would be moved out of Bayside in two phases, according to a June 4 memo to the Finance Committee. The department’s engineers and administrators would remain at 55 Portland St.

The first phase would cost $4.3 million and include the $2.7 million purchase of 250 Canco Road. The staff proposes moving the Department of Public Services from 82 Hanover St., which would free up the 40,700-square-foot building for sale.

The staff also recommends moving the sand-and-salt shed to Canco Road on land owned by J.B. Brown & Sons, which the city would acquire in a land swap. The city faces a June 15 deadline to move the shed out of 71 Hanover St., so Bayside Bowl can expand its bowling alleys and add squash courts.

Bobinsky said that move has already been completed.

The second phase would cost at least $8 million and require a citywide referendum, according to the memo. That would fund an addition at 250 Canco Road for fleet services, which is now at 44 Hanover St. Until that funding is available, fleet services would remain at 44 Hanover St.

Bobinsky said the first phase would likely take 12 to 18 months. Phase two would move forward “when the time is right and there is funding to support it.”