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River Park Square Unveils Plans Owners Ask City To Close Post To Set Stage For $80 Million Retail Project

Fri., April 14, 1995

The owners of River Park Square Thursday asked the city to close a block of Post Street to accommodate a massive $80 million downtown retail expansion.

The project includes a new home for Nordstrom Inc., a major downtown merchant, and shopping and parking space covering two blocks.

Pedestrian traffic would continue on Post, between Main Avenue and Spokane Falls Boulevard, beneath a glass atrium that would be the centerpiece of the shopping complex.

Proposed by the owners of River Park Square - Citizens Realty Co. and Lincoln Investment Co. - the project would stretch from Lincoln to Wall streets along Main Avenue.

Citizens and Lincoln are affiliates of Cowles Publishing Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.

The west block of River Park Square would be rebuilt to house Nordstrom at the corner of Lincoln and Main, across from the Spokane Public Library. The current Nordstrom building would be renovated for retail shops.

Betsy Cowles, president of Citizens and Lincoln Investment, said the companies hope to begin construction this year and open the renovated shopping center in the fall of 1998. That’s the same year the city hopes to close the Post Street Bridge.

The development needs to proceed quickly, she said, or Spokane risks losing both the Nordstrom and The Bon downtown stores.

“We are at a juncture where Spokane needs to take steps to assure retailers that we are serious about the city’s future and ready to bring much-needed revitalization to downtown,” she said.

The development hinges on commitments from Nordstrom and The Bon to stay downtown. Post also must be closed, Cowles said.

The city would be more likely to vacate Post if plans for a proposed Lincoln Street bridge are approved, diverting traffic off the old bridge. However, Spokane attorney Steve Eugster and others are opposing the plan, saying the new bridge should be built on Post.

Cowles said some opposition is expected to the development, but by announcing plans early, she hopes public concerns can be met without delaying the project.

“When people take a good look at how important a thriving downtown retail area is to the Spokane economy, we’re going to have a great deal of support for this project,” she said.

Citizens and Lincoln Investment filed an application Thursday with the Spokane Public Works Department to vacate Post. The alley behind the current Nordstrom store also would be closed.

Developers said they have begun assembling an $80 million “partnership” that would include private and public money. Details of how the city of Spokane would be involved are still being worked out, Cowles said.

The development is separate from a proposed parking and business improvement district, which would assess property owners to promote and spruce up the downtown core.

The retail project would be one of the largest ever downtown, nearly double the cost of the $45 million arena that’s replacing the Spokane Coliseum.

The action would mark the second time in recent years that traffic would be limited on downtown streets. The city this year will complete renovation of Wall Street, which limits traffic on certain blocks to a trolley bus, bicycles and delivery trucks.

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