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Valley dedicates more funds to plan

Wed., Aug. 22, 2007

Even though they only exist on paper at this point, Spokane Valley’s plans to revitalize Sprague Avenue and build a city center are getting more expensive.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved up to $139,500 for additional work from consultants hired to create the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan and a public-private partnership that could result in a development akin to a downtown for the sprawling suburb.

If the city center project goes forward as envisioned, the council also approved a new planning position, costing roughly $82,000 a year, to manage the project.

“If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right the first time,” Mayor Diana Wilhite said Monday.

The sub-area plan for Sprague would use new zoning and strict aesthetic standards to concentrate stores in more pedestrian-friendly centers at major intersections, while breaking up miles of strip retail with mixed-use areas.

Slated to be ready for public hearings this fall, the Sprague-Appleway plan was put out to bid in late 2005.

At that time, the city budgeted $250,000 to hire an urban design firm. Once the applications came in, though, the council favored a team of consultants that charged more than $400,000 for the project.

This year, it also hired experts in real estate and shopping center development to further evaluate the city center proposal and negotiate with landowners on a potential site.

So far the council has approved about $650,000 for consulting on the project.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council members also voted to reaffirm that the city manager can spend more than initially expected on contracts related to the project without going before the council first.

“The pace of the decisions are accelerating, and we need to have a faster turnaround,” said Deputy City Manager Nina Regor.

Under the existing City Code, the city manager can enter into contracts worth less than $200,000 and add funds to larger, council-approved contracts up to 15 percent of the contract amount or $200,000, whichever is less.


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