June 30, 2006 in City

YMCA site may go condo

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Condos with a view

The YMCA property sits on slightly less than an acre with 227 feet of Spokane River frontage.

A Spokane developer plans to build a $50 million, 14-story condominium tower on the YMCA property at the edge of Riverfront Park, overlooking the Spokane River.

Mark Pinch, who has offered the YMCA $5.3 million for the property, said the new building would be 150 feet high with up to 80 residential units and two levels of parking. The condominiums would start in the $300,000 range, he said.

“We’re going to develop that as good stewards of the park and good stewards of the river and provide Spokane with a dynamite project,” Pinch said. “At the same time, we’ll provide people who aren’t residents in those homes with great access and great views.”

The purchase and sale agreement, announced Thursday by Pinch and YMCA President Rig Riggins, allows the YMCA to move closer to its goal of co-location with the YWCA at 930 N. Monroe, on 3.5 acres the YWCA announced Wednesday it planned to purchase. The YWCA previously sold its property on the north bank of the Spokane River to SRM Development of Spokane for $4 million.

The announcement also triggers the Spokane Park Board’s 30-day right of first refusal to purchase the YMCA property, which it plans to exercise. What remains to be seen is how the park board would raise the money to match the $5.3 million offer by July 28.

“We would like that piece of property as part of the park, not as a high-rise building,” said Ron Rector, vice president of the Park Board. “We just feel it should be part of the park and part of the view. It’s got the best view of the river.”

The YMCA property sits on slightly less than an acre of land with 227 feet of Spokane River frontage.

Riggins said Pinch’s offer allows the YMCA to remain in place until its new building opens, offering a seamless transition to members. The relocation and combination of services with the YWCA will allow the nonprofit organizations to grow by 40 percent, reaching 70,000 people in Spokane County, Riggins said.

“This is an exciting day for us,” said Riggins. “This is a means to an end and our end is serving more people in the community and that’s a really big deal for us.”

Riggins said the YMCA hopes to break ground on its new building by spring or summer 2007, following a fundraising campaign. The YMCA hopes to move in by fall 2008. Pinch said he would begin construction at that time, with a projected completion date of spring 2009. Pinch, a longtime commercial real estate executive at Tomlinson Black Commercial, is developing the land through his company, Pinch Development and Investment.

Pinch said he plans to tear down the YMCA building and set his new condominium tower back from the river, making room for walkways and viewing platforms that would be open to the public. He also wants to incorporate a walk-up coffee shop and a fenced, off-leash dog park on the property.

“We are going to have public access 360 degrees around that building,” Pinch said. “That’s really important.”

Pinch said he and his architectural firm, Miller Stauffer of Coeur d’Alene, also plan to minimize the impact a 150-foot-high tower would have on river views by designing smaller floors. Though the first two floors of the building would be about 30,000 square feet to accommodate parking, a lobby and utilities, the 12 stories above would have about 12,000 square feet of space. By comparison, the Wells Fargo building has 11,000-square-foot floors, but is more rectangular in shape.

Miller Stauffer is the designer and developer of the McEuen Terrace and Parkside residential and commercial towers in Coeur d’Alene.

Riggins said the sale to Pinch would convert a previously non-tax-revenue-producing property, held by a nonprofit corporation, into one that could generate up to $1 million in taxes per year. However, that would follow a likely 10-year property tax abatement period offered to owners of new multifamily housing in the downtown core.

With condominium projects and the Kendall Yards development proposed for the north bank of the river, Pinch said, “It’s apparent to us in the development community that there’s a new neighborhood emerging here. There’s this neighborhood popping up along the river.”


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