January 14, 2006 in Business

Kendall Yards vision gets clearer

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

Construction could start as early as this spring on a 77-acre property just north of downtown Spokane that could one day be a thriving urban village, home to 4,000 mostly young professionals and empty-nesters, living in a mix of apartments, condominiums and townhouses.

Up to 1 million square feet of retail and office space would complement the residences, with buildings as high as 12 stories, a new segment of the Centennial Trail overlooking the Spokane River’s north bank and new viewpoints with public access. The project would be designed to invite the community in to enjoy five public plazas aligned approximately with Lindeke, Nettleton, Elm, Cedar and Jefferson streets.

The most complete view to date of Kendall Yards was submitted Friday afternoon to the city of Spokane by Riverfront Properties LLC, a company headed by developer Marshall Chesrown. The creator of the exclusive Club at Black Rock on Lake Coeur d’Alene expects the Kendall Yards development proposal to be considered by the hearing examiner in March.

“A year ago yesterday, Marshall bought the property,” Tom Reese, project manager for Kendall Yards, said on Friday. Chesrown paid $12.8 million in a Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities bankruptcy auction. “Within a year’s time, we’ve completed the largest brownfields (cleanup) project in the country. We’ve created a brand-new, more bold, planned unit development. We’re really moving the project forward. A lot of things have been accomplished in a very short period of time.”

The developers say the project’s goal is to develop a vibrant residential and commercial neighborhood that connects with the West Central neighborhood, the Spokane River Gorge and downtown.

To meet those goals, the developer proposes that cars enter Kendall Yards via a new intersection, with a traffic light, just north of the Monroe Street Bridge at Bridge Avenue. A new arterial called Kendall Yards Boulevard would run west from Monroe through the development to a traffic circle on the west end.

A new intersection also would be created just north of the Maple Street Bridge to provide access into and out of the development from Kendall Yards Boulevard. Several existing north-south streets in West Central would be extended south, into and through Kendall Yards, to the Centennial Trail along the neighborhood’s southern border.

The development team projects a maximum of 3,308 evening rush hour trips, with traffic distributed among the Maple/Ash corridor, Broadway, Ide, Ohio and Monroe. The existing Ohio Avenue to Summit Boulevard route around the western point of the site would be reconfigured to eliminate vehicle traffic and develop a walking and bicycle trail.

Though 2,600 residences are proposed, developers believe they will be home to only about 4,000 people, because most will be young professionals or retired couples.

“I receive at least half a dozen (inquiries) a week, e-mails or phone calls, directly from people who are interested in living there and actually businesses interested in the commercial locations as well,” Reese said. “That’s been fairly constant since we kicked off the project and got the Web site going. Even beyond that, calls are coming from across the country – from California, the East Coast, Florida, Oregon, Montana, and a lot of Spokane folks.”

Few school-age children are expected to be added to the enrollment lists at Holmes Elementary, Glover Middle School or North Central High School, the application says. And if they were, enrollment at those inner city schools is declining, project documents contend, so additional students would not create problems for Spokane Public Schools.

The section of the development west of Ash Street will hold about 1,300 housing units of various styles. The housing along Bridge Avenue, where the development runs up against the West Central neighborhood, will be attached single-family housing that will be compatible with the existing single-family homes, the documents say.

Density and height of buildings will increase as the development extends to the south, closer to the river. Space will be reserved for retail development at “key locations” throughout the neighborhood, the application says.

East of Ash, the development will contain about 1,200 residences and up to 1 million square feet of commercial space. Retail, services and offices will be located on the ground floor, with upper-floor offices and housing.

The developer also suggests that a fixed-rail streetcar could serve the neighborhood, continuing to the South Hill medical complex and to the University District. The developer also has proposed extending Kendall Yards across Monroe Street to the Post Street Bridge, where he would like to see a mixed-use market place. That would require realigning Bridge Avenue and use of city parkland.

Reese said the development team is anticipating paying for all infrastructure improvements itself, but will look into using tax-increment financing and other state or local incentives.


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