April 1, 1998 in Nation/World

Feds Ok Loan For Spokane Approval Of $22.65 Million Clears Way For Downtown Redevelopment Project

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The River Park Square redevelopment project cleared its last financial hurdle Tuesday, winning approval of a $22.65 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The announcement from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray came just a day after the Spokane City Council voted 5-2 to loan the money to the shopping center’s developers.

“After last night’s endorsement of the project by the City Council, I am pleased to see HUD follow with this news,” Murray said in a written statement. “This project will serve as the cornerstone for the revitalization of downtown Spokane.”

The loan, under review by HUD since its preliminary approval last July, is on its way to Secretary Andrew Cuomo for his signature, the statement said.

The money will be loaned to the city, which then will loan the money to the developers.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” said Betsy Cowles, president of the two companies that own River Park Square. “We’re at the stage now where this project is very definitely going to be a reality.”

Councilman Jeff Colliton echoed Cowles’ elation. “Oh, that’s super,” he said when told the news. “I think we made the right decision.”

Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers, who voted against the loan, was less enthusiastic.

“Oh, my goodness. … Would it really have killed (the council) to wait for HUD’s decision?” said Rodgers, who had urged her colleagues to delay their decision until getting final word from the federal agency.

HUD’s decision coincides with Nordstrom’s plans to take over the building site today. But Brooke White, a spokesman for the Seattle-based retailer, said there’s no link between the two.

“It ironically starts tomorrow. There’s no connection,” White said Tuesday.

The project still faces at least two legal challenges from attorney Steve Eugster - one over access to loan documents and the second over environmental issues.

Cowles called the lawsuits “more of a nuisance” than a threat to the project.

River Park Square is owned by Citizens Realty Co. and Lincoln Investment Co., affiliates of Cowles Publishing Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEXT Nordstrom begins construction today on its new store. River Park Square’s developers also will start building the atrium, retail space and parking garage west of Post Street. More than half the shopping center is slated to open in August 1999.

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHAT’S NEXT Nordstrom begins construction today on its new store. River Park Square’s developers also will start building the atrium, retail space and parking garage west of Post Street. More than half the shopping center is slated to open in August 1999.


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