Posts tagged: City of Spokane
Let's keep rolling on the topic of rideshare services, which just arrived in these parts. See last's week's story here.
The issue is going to be tossed into the laps of local officials who need to study the issue and decide if regulation is needed, if only because there are some concerns about the services providing safe rides to people relying solely on a smartphone to find a driver.
We checked in with Spokane city officials, who last week said they're likely to review the possible options. We did not check with Spokane County or with the City of Spokane Valley, or Coeur d'Alene, which the two main services provide rides to.
There are numerous similar efforts across the country trying to establish rules and guidelines for rideshares. Here's a map produced by NBC Chicago that tries to track the different regulations occurring nationwide.
What are the biggest areas of the Spokane economy in terms of retail spending?
Let's take a look, compliments of the city's chief financial officer, Gavin Cooley. Today's news story, about how much area cities and counties rebounded in retail sales last year, noted that Washington has a big net called “taxable retail sales” and a smaller part of that group, which is called retail trade.
Retail trade covers products sold like cars, stereos, computers, furniture. Taxable retail covers services and those products purchased by construction crews or manufacturers, who also pay a sales tax on those items.
Inside the city, this is the breakdown:
Construction taxes accounted for 11 percent of the city's retail taxes last year.
Retail trade accounted for 45 percent. Services accounted for 29 percent. The remaining 15 percent is distributed among a number of small categories.
As a general rule in Washington state, the breakdown between taxable non-trade and trade retail is 55 to 45 percent.
Looking just at 2014's first two months, Spokane city retail shows the largest gain this year is in services, up 10 percent from Jan-Feb. 2013.
Retail trade is down 2 percent. Which makes me wonder if Spokane hosted some major spectator events or touring shows in January or February 2013.
The city of Spokane has begun construction of its $14 million combined Solid Waste Management & Fleet maintenance facility, known as the Nelson Service Center, at 915 N. Nelson.
The center will allow the city to convert solid waste trucks to compressed natural gas from diesel fuel, to save money and operate more efficiently.
Work on the two-story, 57,500-square-foot service center is expected to continue until summer or early fall of 2015.
It's on the south side of a 32-acre, city-owned parcel in the Chief Garry Park Neighborhood.
This is the city's first major use of a design-build project. Garco Construction and Bernardo Wills Architects LLC, both of Spokane, are the building’s contractor and designer.
That option was chosen to speed construction and maintain better control over costs.
Developer Steven Schmautz is completing the renovation of the former Johnston Printing warehouse into commercial offices at 121 W. Pacific Ave. in Spokane.
The conversion will leave about 8,600 square feet of office space. Three tenants have signed leases: The Union, a yoga salon run by Tyler Lafferty and Nick Murto, principals at Seven 2 design firm; Copeland Architecture; and Helvetika, the new name for the former agency Anderson Mraz Design.
The three tenants are expected to move in sometime in December.
The building has one 2,100-square-foot office not yet leased, said Vic Overholser of SDS Realty Inc., the leasing agent.
Rendering courtesy of SDS Realty, of Spokane.
Earlier on Wednesday we ran a map with an item on the proposed amendment request submitted on behalf of the family of John and Holly Sonneland. That earlier printed map is the existing land use for the 30 acres the Sonnelands own on Spokane's South Hill.
Here is another map from the city that shows the proposed, requested uses for the same property. The large purple block would be centers and corridors designated for mixed use. The darker yellow area to the left and below, bordered with purple lines, would remain residential, but it would change in nature.
As our other SR news story (ran on May 22) reported, the Sonnelands say they didn't submit the full 30-acre rezone request. They say a local developer, Steve Schmautz, went forward for a full rezone, rather than what the Sonnelands wanted, a smaller, less-than-eight-acre rezone of their property.
This map shows that if the full project moved forward, one request to the city would change the residential parcels, currently zoned single-family residential, to R15-30, allowing for up to 30 units per acre.
The original documents accompanying the request did note that the project, if developed, would not build apartments at that density, but closer to 10 units per acre. The Sonnelands, again saying that type of development is several years off, if at all, say they don't want a high-density residential development.
This is one of those tales that never quite answers all the questions it raises. The Sonneland family, a fixture for decades on Spokane's South Hill, has more than 30 acres that will eventually go through some development. The first part of the plan is the existing Quail Run commercial cluster on 29th Avenue near Southeast Boulevard.
Today's story summarizes the confusion and attempted fix after a developer submitted a request to amend the Spokane Comprehensive Plan and allow mixed-use development on many of the still-undeveloped acres the Sonnelands have.
The property iincludes the last significant green belt of natural land sitting atop Spokane's South Hill.
The upshot: while the city is still reviewing the request for rezoning all 30 acres, the family now says they're not ready to move forward with that size of project. Instead, with the help of a local developer, they're more focused on making a zone change happeon on the northeasternmost 6 acres or so of the property.
To grab more information about the project, on the city's planning department site, go here. Scroll down to the specific link for the Sonneland project.
The term “primary industry” and primary jobs came to mind when I wrote the story last week on the evolution of the former Playfair Race Course into Playfair Commerce Park.
A primary industry is a good thing. It's a company that sells its products or services outside the region, thus importing dollars into the local economy.
SCAFCO, the company that acquired the former racet rack, is the quintessential Spokane primary industry. And its ongoing success in selling its steel studs and steel storage tanks is the key reason SCAFCO could buy the old abandoned track and spend a lot of cash improving it.
The photo above is an example of the kinds of changes SCAFCO has made on the 48 acres that are the new commerce park. Provided by Bruce Katahira of SCAFCO, it shows the before and after changes for Olive Street, in the park.
Hats off to SCAFCO. The park has a strong future. The map here also shows the general layout of the property.
Friday's a short snow day at Office Hours.
So, do you love your new Blue Cart, the 62-gallon containers area cities are giving residents to recycle more of their household stuff?
You can learn more about what happens to all that stuff when it gets hauled out to the Waste Management facility that opened in October. Look for the Sunday stor on that new MRF (materials recycling facility) at Spokesman.com, on Nov. 11.
And let us add: Happy Holidays to all, even if it's way too early.
UPDATED: At 1 p.m., we learned that the city and county don't provide money to the Workforce Development Council. Which means this was a politically necessary system that involved some overview by city and county officials, but without any skin in the game.
City Communications Manager Marlene Feist said: “For the first time, SAWDC did get a County grant this year—an outside agency grant for $20,000.
“The SAWDC funding primarily comes from federal and state grants,” Feist noted.
The Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, a joint effort between the City of Spokane and Spokane County, will be relocated as an operation of Community Colleges of Spokane.
The transferl is part of efforts top align workforce services more efficiently and to let Workforce work more closely with the community colleges.
The SAWDC will continue as a nonprofit agency. Its goals are: closing the skills gap, helping workers gain new skills, helping workers and companies improve productivity and reduce poverty in the region.
A press release said the new plan should make it easier for the agency to find money from a more sources and streamline management.
An interlocal agreement between the city and county allowed the SAWDC to operate as a city department for nearly four decades.
The release said: “But as the city and county have looked for ways to improve services for citizens, moving the SAWDC to a non-profit made sense. Workforce development agencies across the state and nation have thrived using a similar approach.
“This change reflects another model of collaboration between the city and county,” says Mayor David Condon. “At the city, we are making changes to focus our efforts on what we do best and allow others to operate services that are outside our area of expertise.”
Maybe a business “amnesty” program is a great thing to celebrate.
Owners of commercial or industrial land can submit information to the city to review if their properties meet environmental, zoning and utility criteria.
Once certified, the shovel-ready property will be listed on the city's certified website.
Spokane Mayor David Condon backed the idea in his election campaign, saying simplifying site information can help the area’s economic development.
Greater Spokane Inc. President Rich Hadley said the certified site program is the first in
The website for the program is: http://developingspokane.org/siteselector/default.aspx.
Mayor David Condon on Monday announced he's hired local BBB CEO Jan Quintrall to be in charge of the city's Business and Developer Services office.
That office used to have the name of Economic Development Division. Theresa Sanders, the current city manager, headed that division in the administration of previous mayor Mary Verner.
Quintrall's job starts Monday; she'll earn $118,494 if approved by the City Council.
Filling in as interim CEO of the Spokane Regional BBB will be Elea Katzele.
The official release said the new division will include building, planning, engineering services, capital programs and workforce development. Quintrall said her focus will be in eliminating red tape and making business activities and projects less cumbersome.
The key job task is “making sure the people who work (in the department) have the right tools to do their jobs effectively,” she said.
While Verner and other mayors have vowed to simplify the permitting and business application process at the city, Quintrall said the system has a ways to go.
She added, “The bureaucracy breeds on itself. There is still a lack of clarity” in how people go through the business development process, she said.
Folks who just can't get enough City of Spokane documents can now plan their summer.
The city recently upgraded access to its public records online, adding (relatively) easy access to about 38,000 records.
The city clerk's new records search tool gives access to resolutions, ordinances, leases, contracts and city council meeting minutes. A press release notes more 800,000 pages of information going back to 2004 are viewable.
Mayor Mary Verner said the expanded access is part of the city's commitment to open government. “This tool provides our citizens with 24-7 access to important information on the activities of the City of Spokane,” she said.
The link and online search tool are at http://publicdocs.spokanecity.org/cityclerkrecords/
The Spokane Club today named John Pilcher its new CEO.
After a national search, the club’s board chose Pilcher to move the athletic-social club forward. Pilcher has been serving as interim CEO for the past several months.
“I’m thrilled to be asked to lead this historic enterprise on its path to success,” Pilcher said in a prepared release.
A Harvard MBA, Pilcher has been COO for the City of Spokane and was the city’s first Economic Development Division Director. Pilcher is a former board member of the Spokane Regional Economic Development Council. He has been involved in numerous community projects and civic groups including Rotary 21.
In a recent Sunday Business section story, we looked at the key membership problems the privately funded club is facing.