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Downtown Campaign Still Rolling

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks, urge organizers of a grassroots effort encouraging Nordstrom and the Bon to maintain stores in downtown Spokane.

“And keep signing petitions and phoning in, too,” says Nancy Goodspeed, spokeswoman for the “I Love Downtown” campaign. “It all counts.”

And how it counts. To date, more than 10,000 signatures have been gathered.

In addition, more than 1,000 phone calls to the campaign office (326-7414) have been logged. And hundreds, if not thousands, of residents in Spokane and around the region have taken the time to write letters urging the two stores to stay downtown.

The “I Love Downtown” organization has copies of 300-plus letters. How many more people corresponded directly with the stores is anybody’s guess.

But the main point here is, the petition drive, phone-in and letter writing campaign are still on.

Some confusion existed over the timeframe for the effort. Initially, publicity indicated that the campaign would wrap up early last week.

But Goodspeed says that phase of the effort was keyed to delivering a first batch of petitions in time for a scheduled meeting of The Bon on a range of real estate matters, including the situation in Spokane. That done, additional bundles of petitions, letters, and transcripted comments phoned into the campaign headquaters continue to be made up for delivery to the Bon. When the first batch of material still being collected and processed will be delivered to Nordstrom is still to be decided.

And so the campaign will continue, says Goodspeed, until further notice.

Meantime, negotiations between officials of the River Park Square shopping complex and The Bon and Nordstrom are “ongoing.” Proposed redevelopment of River Park Square, which is owned by affiliates of Cowles Publishing Co., at a cost of $80 million is the key to keeping downtown’s two main anchors in place.

Without the project, the stores won’t stay put. Without a commitment from the stores, the project won’t get built. And without the project getting built, hopes for downtown’s future as a shopping district, indeed as a vital city center, are slim to none. A late rush of petitions, phone calls and letters to “I Love Downtown” played a large part, Goodspeed said, in extending the campaign.

Among the letters was one from Mary Nobel. She wrote to the campaign officials, “After reading the Sunday paper rather late, I noticed Frank Bartel’s column stating the deadline for the “I Love Downtown” campaign is tomorrow! (Today actually - it’s after midnight.)

“I hope this isn’t too late to ‘count.’

“Please add my name to the list. Please foward this letter to whomever!

“I don’t want to lose The Bon and Nordstrom from downtown! I LIKE shopping downtown! I do NOT like malls. In fact - I am more inclined to mail order than go to NorthTown.”

That’s a lot like what George Wood wrote in letters to both the Bon and Nordstrom. And the retired South Hill dentist can testify that the letters do “count.”

He, too, mailed late. But he received a speedy reply from the Bon’s main man in Spokane. In his letter to The Bon, Wood advised decision-makers, “Downtown and the South Hill have always had a rather symbiotic relationship.

“As I am sure you realize, the more affluent part of the population are tied to the clubs, restaurants, businesses in the center of the city, which are only a few minutes from their residences.

“Driving north or to the Valley is too difficult and takes too much time. For example, we used to shop occasionally at the J. C. Penney store when it was downtown. Since they moved, we have NEVER (his capitals) shopped at their store and furthermore we never will! Nor at your NorthTown store.

“If you do move from your downtown location, we will no longer continue to deal with The Bon Marche!”

In response, resident manager John DeGeus promised, said “We will strive to do everything we can to warrant your continued support in the months and years to come.

“I will be certain to pass your letter on to our division management in Seattle.”

, DataTimes MEMO: For those who wish to send letters straight to the campaign office, the address is: I Love Downtown, P.O. Box 5131, Spokane, Wash., 99205.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

For those who wish to send letters straight to the campaign office, the address is: I Love Downtown, P.O. Box 5131, Spokane, Wash., 99205.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review