North Bank development plans outlined

TUESDAY, DEC. 20, 2005

Saying that people today crave a lifestyle on or near water, developer Marshall Chesrown outlined his plans Monday for the proposed 77-acre Kendall Yards project overlooking the Spokane River’s north bank.

The developer of The Club at Black Rock in North Idaho is proposing 2,600 residences and 1 million square feet of commercial space on land just across the river from downtown Spokane. Crews should finish cleaning up and hauling away 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated dirt by the end of the month, he said, and the city should receive his permit application by early January. Chesrown said he expects the hearing examiner to consider his project by early March.

“A promise I’ll make to all of you is: We won’t do anything that isn’t first-class,” Chesrown told an audience at the Dean’s Business Forum at Gonzaga University on Monday. “If it isn’t going to be done right, I won’t do it at all.”

Chesrown drew parallels between his property and an old rail yard in downtown Denver, which in 1980 was a frightening place to be, he said. Within a 10-year window, he said, a housing, retail and entertainment complex was constructed, creating a thriving urban village with thousands of residents. In Denver, Chesrown said, the 38-acre development contains 10,000 residences. He said the Kendall Yards property is “calling out” for more than the 2,600 residences he’s planned, and he hopes to increase the density there over time.

The biggest sticking points in his negotiations with the city of Spokane have been over access into the development from the Maple and Monroe Street bridges, Chesrown said. He’d like an intersection with a signal just north of the Monroe Street Bridge where retail could be developed. The intersection, he said, would create access into Kendall Yards and would help connect it to downtown.

“If you do not have an intersection, it’s an impossibility for people to run across six lanes of traffic,” Chesrown said of the proposed intersection just north of the Monroe Street Bridge. “This intersection on Monroe is just an absolute deal-breaker.”

Though Chesrown’s other developments have targeted an upscale market, he anticipates residents as varied as Gonzaga students and retired professionals will live at Kendall Yards. Housing will include apartments, condominiums and attached single-family residences. He does not plan any low-income housing.

Chesrown said the people who live in urban village-style developments are big tax generators but don’t demand many public services. At Black Rock, Chesrown said, there are four school-age children, the police have never been called to the site, and the average property value is $2 million.

Some audience members asked Chesrown how Kendall Yards would blend with the West Central area, which is home to many low-income residents. Chesrown said his development has already caused widespread real estate speculation there, as evidenced by the number of rental homes. Since work began on Kendall Yards, he said, the percentage of rental homes in West Central has risen from 57 percent to 80 percent.

Chesrown said he’ll try to minimize negative impacts on the neighborhood by Kendall Yards. He said his plan tries to create more connections to West Central through enhancements to the Centennial Trail, by opening up once-closed streets and by creating public viewpoints overlooking the river. He said he hopes that the development of Kendall Yards will drive crime away from the area. “When the lights go on, the bad guys will run,” he said.

Click here to comment on this story »