January 26, 1998 in Nation/World

Nethercutt Sees What Sabey Can’t

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Rep. George Nethercutt has lent his good name to the effort to revitalize downtown Spokane.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week, Nethercutt aptly shed some light on the two key issues related to the all-but-approved Department of Housing and Urban Development loan for a parking structure that is part of the downtown redevelopment.

The two key issues reiterated in Nethercutt’s letter are these:

The HUD loan is essential to the overall redevelopment of a decaying downtown Spokane.

The developers and the city of Spokane have met all the financing, loan-repayment and job-creation requirements that are stipulated in the application for a HUD loan of this kind.

That a political figure has weighed in on the HUD loan to clarify the essential loan requirement issues is important. Opponents of the downtown redevelopment, namely Seattle developer David Sabey, who owns NorthTown Mall, have tried furiously to fog up the HUD loan application process.

A few days ago, Spokane learned that Sabey Corp. has paid a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm $120,000 in the last 12 months to fight the HUD loan for Spokane.

Much of this lobbying has come months after HUD already determined that the Spokane project qualified for a loan, under the national objectives of the HUD Section 108 loan guarantee program.

The legality of the city of Spokane applying for the loan also has been decided by the Washington Supreme Court. Questions posed by the City Council and others rightfully concerned about taxpayer involvement in the project have been answered.

So, it is welcome news that Nethercutt, a politician, has weighed in to try to get the loan application process back where it needs to be.

As the congressman says, HUD needs to complete action on this loan in a timely way. Further delay, which may well be the objective of the project’s opponents, makes it less certain that the downtown redevelopment project can meet its tight timetables.

The issue of rebuilding downtown Spokane is not a partisan one. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, also has contacted HUD on behalf of Spokane. Her support is welcome and timely, as well.

A healthy downtown is important to the economy of this region, to the region’s quality of cultural life and to merchants throughout the Spokane area.

A revived downtown, particularly a new Nordstrom department store, will bring shoppers from throughout a wide region.

They won’t all shop downtown. Many will also go to NorthTown.

A healthy competition in the marketplace would be great.

It’s unfortunate that the Sabey Corp. doesn’t see that - and fortunate that Rep. Nethercutt and Sen. Murray do.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Chris Peck/For the editorial board


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