October 9, 2004 in Voices

Continuing growth

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Old-timers in Spokane Valley see red when new houses pop up in the wide open spaces to which they’re accustomed. Not Connie Grove. She sees spots. Grove makes maps for the new Spokane Valley city. Charting the city’s building progress with blue and red dots is part of her job. She’s seen a lot of spots lately because construction in the city is booming. Through the first eight months of the year, the city issued 348 building permits for everything from new roofs to new homes. Half the new permits are for single-family homes.

“We had 174 single-family units at the end of August,” said Tom Scholtens, Spokane Valley building official. “There’s stuff going on all over the place.”

Most of the new construction, though, seems to be concentrated on the city’s outskirts, or just outside the city limits. Construction in Northwood and Frazier Estates just north of Millwood is moving at a good clip, producing about 30 homes so far this year. Both areas are outside Spokane Valley city limits and don’t contribute to the city’s building permit count.

Inside the city limits, Midilome East subdivision just east of University High School has added nearly three dozen homes this year. And around Shelley Lake, roughly two dozen homes have gone up so far. The new homes begin at about $180,000 and rise to $300,000.

But the map doesn’t tell the whole story. There are a half-dozen major projects just now picking up steam that have generated few or no permits, such as River Walk Duplex Lots project at the northeast corner of Mission Avenue and Barker Road. Neighborhood Inc., which owns the property, plans to build 40 duplex apartment units on the corner and has reserved a sliver of land for a business site.

Not too far from the River Walk duplexes, a 55-home development by Ken Tupper was approved by the city in late July. And a third project is in the works at the southeast corner of Flora Road and Mission Avenue.

Greenacres, from Chapman Road to the Spokane River, is becoming a hotbed for new home construction, in part because of the raw land available. Big projects take big acres, but the reasons for the Greenacres building trend don’t stop with open space.

“There’s a little bit more to it than land,” said Todd Rooks, real estate agent with Tomlinson Black Spokane Valley. “There’s tremendous potential along the Barker corridor.” Barker Road, which runs the width of Greenacres north to south, makes Greenacres one of the few primarily residential areas in Spokane Valley with its own freeway access. It is also one of the only areas in the region with buildable, riverfront property along the Centennial Trail.

River Walk and River Crossing, two subdivisions by Greenstone Homes, are on track to place 1,000 homes on the Spokane River’s south bank just east of Barker, and there’s nothing but developable land between the subdivisions and Harvard Road, more than a mile farther east.

And south of Barker, there are hundreds of lots approved in the months leading up to Spokane’s urban growth boundary, a perimeter that was supposed to hem in construction. Those projects approved before the urban growth boundary kicked in, assure people moving in that beyond their immediate neighborhoods, new home construction won’t likely be approved for several years.

Farther east, Liberty Lake is going like gangbusters. The little city of 5,000 permitted 74 homes through September and issued 281 permits for everything from remodels to commercial construction, said Mary Wren-Wilson, of the city’s community development office.

And Liberty Lake has two major developments on the horizon. Legacy Ridge, a 500-home project on the Holiday Hills is about to get under way. The only permit issued for the project so far was for a construction office building, but the roads are cut in, as are the pipes servicing the homes. Construction should be just around the corner. Rocky Hill development, northeast of the city center, should be up and running soon, also.

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