August 3, 2006 in Idaho

Blackwell plans being tossed

Staff writer
 

Businessman Duane Hagadone is scrapping his $100 million plan to build condos, shops and offices on Blackwell Island and will greatly scale back plans to upgrade the existing marina.

And who does he blame for the project’s demise?

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem.

Bloem, a onetime friend of Hagadone’s, cast the tie-breaking vote with the City Council on Tuesday to reject the annexation of 78 acres, which includes a portion of the man-made island and some of the water that stretches into the Spokane River and Blackwell Island channel.

In response, Hagadone said the property will remain in the county. But without city water and sewer he can’t develop a 12-acre “village-style” business park.

He said he will continue to seek state and federal permits to dredge the Blackwell Island channel to allow for larger boats at the existing marina.

Hagadone said, however, it won’t be the $20 million marina he initially touted. Instead, it will consist of “probably just some repairs.”

Bloem and the three council members who voted against approving the annexation agreement said too many questions remained unanswered about a slip for a city emergency boat and the width of a bike path.

Hagadone rejected those reasons.

“It was just anti-Hagadone tactics used by the mayor,” he said, adding the mayor has been against him since 2004 when he proposed closing two blocks of Sherman Avenue for a $20 million flower garden. He pulled the proposal after the council insisted it go to a public vote.

Bloem adamantly denied the accusation.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I have no hard feelings at all about the garden project or anything he’s done.”

Bloem added that there were four votes against approving the annexation agreement, not just hers.

“We just needed some answers and this could have moved forward,” she said.

Hagadone said his attempt to get the island in the city limits is “totally over.”

Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson said if Hagadone did decide to pursue annexation, he would have to start over and submit a new application.

The rejection of the Blackwell Island annexation puts the future of Spokane developer John Stone’s neighboring property in limbo.

The council agreed last summer to include Stone’s 3.6-acre tug and marina property in the city limits, contingent on the Blackwell Island annexation.

Bloem said city staff is reviewing the situation to see if there is another way to annex Stone’s property. The city can only annex land that already adjoins the city limits.

In an attempt to entice the council to approve Hagadone’s annexation, Stone made a side offer last month to pay $100,000 and donate the marina slip for a city emergency service boat so Hagadone wouldn’t have to give up one of his slips.

None of Stone’s offer was included in the agreement presented to the council Tuesday. Stone wasn’t available for comment Wednesday.

Bloem said part of the reason she couldn’t vote to approve the annexation agreement was because the contract said Hagadone would give the city a boat slip.

Yet Hagadone representatives had previously told city staff that they wouldn’t offer a slip if Stone was willing to donate one.

There also was no mention of the $100,000 donation Stone offered. Bloem said she wanted a legal agreement that spelled out every detail.

Hagadone said he was generous with the city, willing to pay $155,800 in annexation fees and donate the boat slip. He said he also would have paid all sewer and water hookup costs, impact fees and building permit fees in addition to a backup water system and a study showing the future need for city sewers south of the Spokane River.

He said the project would have given the public access to the now-private waterfront by providing a walking path that looped around the 12 acres of condos, offices and shops.

One of the sticking points in the agreement was the width of the path and whether it would allow bicyclists. Hagadone said the Centennial Trail in front of his Coeur d’Alene Resort is only 8 feet wide, as is the trail in front of City Hall. He said there was no need for a 10-foot path, as some council members requested. He didn’t want bicycle access to the waterfront portion of the path, in front of the condos and businesses.

Bloem said that when the council approved the planned unit development – to allow building up to 110 feet tall, or eight stories, near the shoreline – Hagadone agreed to offer public perks. Those include the path and public access.

“It’s always a balancing act between the public good and the private right,” Bloem said. “He’s trying to take that on as a personal vendetta instead of giving credit to the council for agonizing over the decision.”

Hagadone said the public wasn’t against the annexation and that few people spoke against the plan. He added that the council unanimously approved the annexation in August 2005.

“Who else can you point to except for the mayor,” he said.


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